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Sonoma Media Group saves Petaluma Fourth of July fireworks show

  • Alex Bales left, and Jasmine McClelland enjoy the fireworks show at the fairgrounds in Petaluma. (PD FILE)

Petaluma's Fourth of July fireworks show is back on track.

Sonoma Media Group LLC, the new owner of five Sonoma County radio stations, has stepped up to make sure the show goes on, complete with aerial pyrotechnics.

Five weeks ago, the city said it was unlikely traditional fireworks could be part of the decades-old event because the new East Washington Place shopping center has been built in the “fallout zone” next to the fairgrounds.

Without the safety buffer, it appeared aerial fireworks were out of the question. So the city announced it would host an old-time July Fourth celebration of Americana, with games, foods and patriotic music.

Digging up private funding for the event, which cost as much as $45,000, was proving an annual hurdle. The last two years, funding came through at the last minute from local businesses.

Michael O'Shea, president of Sonoma Media Group, said Wednesday his company wanted to assure the much-loved program would go on this year — and for the future.

“This is a chance for us to help out the city and continue an event that has been a part of people's lives for decades,” he said. “We know how important a community event like this is. It affects people and their children, their families. It really warmed my heart to know we're doing something like that for the community.”

The pyrotechnics show will use three-inch wide shells instead of the five- and six-inch shells the city has previously used. The smaller shells require a smaller safety zone, so it will fit within the smaller space.

While the shells won't fly as high as in the past, O'Shea promised a spectacular event.

“We've added more shells to it to make it, all-in-all, a very big, 20-minute show,” he said.

Assistant City Manager Scott Brodhun said the old-fashioned fair the city had been planning for Lucchesi Park will be moved back to the fairgrounds.

The festivities, to be called PTown4th, will start at 3 p.m. Live music will start around 6 p.m., with the fireworks after 9 p.m.

All five of Sonoma Media Group's radio stations — news/talk KSRO 1350 AM and FM stations 97.7 The River, Hot 101.7, Froggy 92.9 and Mix 104.9 — will broadcast live from the event and will customize music programming to go with the fireworks.

O'Shea said he is bringing together other local employers to create an ongoing funding source for the event.

“We told the city we anticipate this being an ongoing commitment,” he said. “We see this as going years and years in advance.”

You can reach Staff Writer Lori A. Carter at 762-7297 or lori.carter@pressdemocrat.com.

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