Merced County Times Newspaper
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Jeff Chiesa, Band Booster President of the Merced High Marching 100, at center, with his wife Ellen and Mike Saldivar who is interested in the $175 ‘Perfect Show’ fireworks package on sale at the fundraising booth in the parking lot of the Merced Mall.

Fireworks go on sale in Merced

Marching 100 has one of the biggest stands


Editor’s note: This story has been updated from the previous published version in this week’s Merced County Times newspaper to correct inaccurate information regarding the Marching 100’s past fireworks sales numbers. It also deletes a statement asserting that the charity booth ran out of fireworks on last year’s July 4. According to a past booster president, the group indeed had fireworks sales on that day.  


American fireworks retailers have been enjoying an industry boom, if you will. 

2021 was a record-breaking year in the United States, marked by the greatest use of fireworks and the lowest fireworks-related injury rate ever recorded. 

Consumption has increased from 117 million pounds in 1994 to 428.8 million pounds in 2021, and injuries per 100,000 pounds of fireworks used during the same period dropped from 10.7 to 2.7.

The explosive growth has also been felt in Merced. 

Just ask Jeff Chiesa, the Band Booster President of the Merced High School Marching 100. His fundraising group operates the biggest booth with the most variety of TNT Fireworks products in all of Merced.

They sold more than $100,000 worth of product in 2020 and 2021 (gross sales) when local residents were living under stay-at-home orders but armed with stimulus cash.

“We are one of the top sellers in the state,” says Chiesa proudly. 

The Marching 100 booth opened Tuesday in the main parking lot of the Merced Mall along with other retailers (including Phantom Fireworks) scattered throughout the city and the county. 

Chiesa appears excited for the new holiday run, and his group hopes to match last year’s take. However, members worry the poor economy — high gas and food prices — will affect consumer spending. 

This is the Marching 100’s third year at the Merced Mall location, which is a desirable spot due to the ample amount of parking spaces and lots of foot traffic. Many residents will remember the group held “Safe & Sane” fireworks displays in previous years near the Merced High campus at Olive and G. 

At the stand, residents can expect to find a huge variety of fireworks, ranging from $1.79 “Snakes,” to 12 boxes of sparklers for $18, to “The Big Bang” package that is the size of two suitcases and holds about $800 worth of fireworks. Who is going to buy that? On opening day, Chiesa said he already had one Big Bang on hold for a customer to pick up. 

The Marching 100 fireworks stand will be open: Thursday from 8 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.; and Friday through Monday, from 8 a.m. to midnight. The stand will close for good around noon on July 5.

Illegal Fireworks 

One thing you don’t want to due this Independence Day holiday weekend is get involved in the use of illegal fireworks. 

The Merced County Sheriff’s Office and Merced County Fire are reminding residents to use fireworks safely this season. As the 4th of July quickly approaches, they say there has been an increase in illegal firework usage. 

Not only does this put users in danger, but others as well. 

All local law enforcement agencies will be patrolling around the county to enforce firework laws. Anyone caught with illegal fireworks could be subject to a fine of $1,000 and up to one year in jail. 

To report illegal fireworks, please call the non-emergency phone line at 209-385-7449. To report a fire or emergency, please call 9-1-1.

Safety measures

Phantom Fireworks recommends the following when using safe and sane products that are sold at authorized stands in the area. 

• Never let children handle, play with or light any fireworks. Only adults should handle and light the fireworks.

• Please do not consume any alcohol or drugs when handling and lighting fireworks.  

• Use common sense and be careful.

• Follow your local laws on fireworks use. 

• Always use fireworks on a hard, flat and level surface to insure the stability of the items. Brace your aerials, tubes, and fountains with bricks to avoid tip-over.

• Always keep the audience (particularly children) a safe distance from the launch or shooting site. Light the fireworks in a clear, open area away from buildings, vehicles overhead obstructions and shrubbery. A minimum clear distance between the launch site and your audience of 35 feet for fountains and other ground-based items and 150 feet for all aerial items is recommended. You should avoid lighting your fireworks in any area where there is dry grass, dry brush or any flammable items that could catch fire.

• Use safety gear (safety glasses and gloves) when lighting fireworks.

• Keep pets inside during fireworks use (the noise can frighten animals). 

• Douse your fireworks thoroughly with water when you are done, and dispose of the in a covered metal container outdoors and away from buildings. 

• Clean up when the show is over, which includes picking up any debris that may fall into your neighbors’ property. 

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