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Holiday Sales Kick Off
Sales have gotten under way at four local fireworks booths in Escalon, which is one of the San Joaquin County cities that has adopted an ordinance to allow the use of 'Safe and Sane' fireworks.

Sales began on Sunday, June 28 and can continue until midnight on Saturday, July 4.

Organizations running booths and their locations are: Escalon Recreation Department, Escalon Center on Jackson Avenue; Escalon Ag Boosters, Big Boy Market on Jackson Avenue; Escalon Covenant Church, Mar-Val Main Street Market on McHenry Avenue; Escalon Sports Boosters at The Barn, Highway 120.

New to the groups this year is the Ag Boosters organization, with proceeds benefiting ag programs at Escalon High.

"With all the cuts to education, we were just concerned about the ag department and being able to support the kids," noted booth volunteer and Ag Boosters member Teresa Anderson.

The money raised at the booth will help pay for transportation to various events and competitions as well as scholarships for Escalon students.

"Those are the key things we've helped with in the past," Anderson said.

Continuing to help in those areas - and others where the need arises - is the goal for the Ag Boosters and Anderson said "any fundraising opportunity" is something the group needs to seize.

"We feel very lucky to have gotten this," she said of being drawn for one of the three available booths in the city's 'fireworks lottery' event. Applicants are drawn at random for the booths.

Meanwhile, the San Joaquin County Fire Chiefs Association is reminding everyone that, in the unincorporated areas of San Joaquin County, all fireworks, whether 'safe and sane' or not, are illegal. Those using them in those areas may be prosecuted if they posses, use, and/or sell any fireworks. "Fireworks that fly, explode, or fly and explode carry an even more serious charge," said Escalon Fire Chief Rick Mello, who also serves as President of the Fire Chiefs Association. "You could be prosecuted for possessing and using an explosive device."

If a fire is caused due to the use of any fireworks, the person or persons responsible for the fire are liable for the cost of extinguishing the fire and for any injuries and loss of property caused by the fire. They may also have criminal charges brought against them.

In some cities within San Joaquin County, including Escalon, and in some surrounding counties 'safe and sane' fireworks are legal to purchase, possess, and use. They are not legal in the unincorporated areas of San Joaquin County, the City of Lodi, the City of Stockton, and the City of Tracy.

Mello said even the 'safe and sane' variety of fireworks need to be handled with care.

"They need to take all the right precautions," he said of people planning to use the fireworks this holiday weekend. "Don't set any off near dry grass, paper or other flammables, keep them away from children and watch your animals."

Dogs, especially, do not like the loud noise and will likely run away if they get the chance, so animals should be safely inside the house or otherwise secured to keep them from bolting when the fireworks go off.

"Our crews will be about looking for the illegal fireworks," Mello said, noting that they don't want to "spoil anyone's party" but they do want to make sure only the legal fireworks are used, safely and sanely.

To report anyone using illegal fire works call 911.