Visalia's Freedom Celebration canceled

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The fireworks won't be flying in Visalia for the Freedom Celebration on July 4 because of budgeting and staffing issues. (KFSN)

A South Valley tradition is canceled this summer. The fireworks won't be flying in Visalia for the Freedom Celebration on July 4 because of budgeting and staffing issues.

Thousands of people count on the free show each summer and many are upset saying the cancellation ruins their holiday.

A tradition for the Estes family is watching Visalia's Freedom Celebration from their front lawn. "It sucks," Aaron Estes said of the cancellation. "I just found out about it a couple of days ago. It had been circulating a little bit. There's very little online even about it. But sure enough it's cancelled."

Estes moved into his home along Noble Avenue five years ago. Last year was his son's first Fourth of July. This year new plans are needed along this stretch of Noble Avenue. The Estes' neighbors also used the Freedom Celebration as their holiday backdrop.

"We generally have three or four families come over, and we have a little party and enjoy the show," Allen Parker said.

The Freedom Celebration pulls in 8,000 to 12,000 people, filling the Mineral King Bowl and surrounding streets. For more than a decade the show was funded and organized by the Visalia Parks and Recreation Foundation.

"It's too late now to pull something together really," said the foundation's Executive Director Carol Hoppert Hays.

The foundation last year declared that the last time it would sponsor the show.

"It's been fun," Hoppert Hays said. "I've really appreciated the help from the city of Visalia. Our board has just been thrilled to be able to do it, it's just we've come to the end of our resources."

The foundation agreed to run the show for just a few years, at the request of the city. That was over a decade ago. Now it says it needs to return to its core mission of improving parks and rec programs.

Fireworks fans are upset but are taking it in stride. "We'll go somewhere with a pool," Estes said. "It's always hot here."

The Parks and Recreation Foundation and the city are offering to help any new sponsor that steps in to bring the $30,000 show back next year.

Neighbors even said they're willing to fundraise and revive the Freedom Celebration for 2016.
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fireworks4th of july4th of july eventtulare countyVisalia
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