With fireworks active throughout town, Riverbank residents celebrated the Fourth of July with gusto, despite having to deal with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Saturday afternoon, there were lines at many of the local fireworks stands, as buyers sought to score just a little more fuel for the evening ahead. Of course, most were observing the social distancing edict, and wearing masks.
Elsewhere in the warm sunny weather that day, celebrants who hoped to enjoy time at or in the river at Jacob Myers Park were disappointed fairly early in the day. By noontime, security guards had to close entrance to JMP for the day, saying that, at 75 percent capacity, that was all they could let in for the holiday. There were two guards stationed at the closed, locked gate, turning around those who sought to park outside but walk into the park.
The downside of the closure was, with temperatures expected to reach around 97 degrees, those who wanted to walk into the park merely drove across the bridge, then down to River Cove Drive to access the river. Many, many of them parked along the levee or in front of the houses there, climbed the levee and waded across the river to get into the park, a situation that residents of the River Cove area don’t enjoy.
Late in the day, just before sunset, in Crossroads neighborhoods, onlookers preparing for the night’s activities were treated to a cruise by from a couple of low riders.
The most dangerous part of the holiday came as the dark of the evening took hold.
As the sky got blacker, more and more fireworks could be seen up and down the residential streets of Riverbank. But, like much of the rest of the state, even the country, with the COVID pandemic forcing most localities to cancel official fireworks displays this year there were plenty of illegal fireworks set off. Citizens turned to providing their own pyrotechnic entertainment, much of it illegal, despite notices from city officials that there would be no warnings issued this year and those caught in violation would be subject to $1000 fines.
As the evening wore on, onlookers had but to cast their view in any direction to see the night sky lit up with the bursts above them. Even some people set off both legal and illegal fireworks from the same place in front of their house. Both the rocket-type effects that leave the ground and those that explode fall into the unlawful category.
In some areas of the state, such fireworks were reported to have caused damage, including fires and injuries. In Riverbank, explosions could be heard around town as late as 3 a.m.