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Cerritos City Council Bans Fireworks

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Heeding the wishes of its citizenry, the City Council voted last week to ban the sale and use of Fourth of July fireworks.

Last month, voters overwhelmingly decided that they did not want their city to allow fireworks. The referendum, which was put on the ballot by the City Council, was non-binding, but council members pledged they would abide by the results.

The council voted 4 to 0 Wednesday for the ban. Councilman Daniel Wong was absent.

Several church, civic and youth groups that sold fireworks each year in order to raise money had fought the ban.

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“I think you’ll see a lot of the clubs disbanding,” said Dennis Peterson, immediate past president of the Cerritos Rod and Gun Club, which sponsors the city’s annual youth fishing derby.

Without the income from fireworks sales, Peterson said, the club may not be able to continue the derby. Fireworks sales, Peterson said, produced more money for the club than such activities as selling pumpkins or Christmas trees.

Bryna Dambrowski of the Assembly of God Church said two church groups that sold fireworks have not yet decided how they will sustain themselves in the future.

The Royal Rangers, an organization for boys ages 5 to 17, used its fireworks profits to underwrite camping trips or excursions to such places as Magic Mountain amusement park, Dambrowski said.

The church’s teen youth group used fireworks money to go on missions, either to Third World countries or to places in the United States, such as New York City, where it worked last summer with poor, inner-city youngsters.

The City Council is not unmindful of what the fireworks ban means to nonprofit groups. At the council meeting Wednesday night, Mayor Ann B. Joynt asked the city staff to explore the possibility of allowing nonprofit groups to take over a job now being done by professionals--painting house addresses on curbsides.

Dambrowski, who was not at the meeting, said her church groups might consider such a fund-raising activity, but Peterson was more skeptical.

He said it might be more difficult to find enough volunteers to paint the street numbers than to staff a fireworks sales booth, which could only be operated seven days before the Fourth of July.

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