Sonoma Media Group saves Petaluma Fourth of July fireworks show

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.

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