Petaluma’s 4th of July…Behind the scenes with Jan Mandrell

On May 16, 2011, the City Council issued proclamations expressing appreciation to four major contributors who helped complete the funding requirements for this year’s July 4th celebration…

(Upper Left: Bill White, Basin Street Properties; Upper Right: Mitch Lind, Jerico Products; Lower Left: Mark Ferguson, Petaluma Kiwanis; Lower Right: Steve McCaffrey, Petaluma Refuse & Recycling)

The combined contributions from individuals, other businesses, and the donors above were sufficent to proceed with the show as in past years. 

But let’s go back a few months. 

Take note of the person who appears in the extreme right of each photo in the above collage–Jan Mandrell, Recreation Supervisor, Parks & Recreation.

One of Jan’s many responsibilities is Petaluma’s annual July 4th celebration. In carrying out this task, she must plan, organize, manage, negotiate, educate, communicate, and secure funding for the event. Sub tasks include negotiating with all vendors and fireworks show personnel, securing all required permits, and arranging for the necessary public safety support for the show. 

Preparation begins as early as January, if not the preceding December.  It is no secret that money is very tight this year and securing contributions was a challenge.  In addition to seeking support from the business community, Jan also ran a Buy A Star–Be A Star campaign to encourage contributions.

When I checked in with Jan on March 2, it was nip & tuck whether they were going to be able to have a show as planned. By March 17 they were getting close to goal but they were still short.

But Jan was still plugging away…

 The last frame in the collage bears repeating…

Jan’s hard work and the support of the community paid off…and it is more than evident in her face before the start of the Council meeting on May 16…

NOTE: Click on the collages and photo for a larger view. 

Petaluma July 4th Show…BREAKING NEWS!

News Flash!

(I’ve always wanted to say that! Or is it write that?) 

Jan Mandrell of Parks & Rec informed me that, “Basin Street Properties has come forward with a $6,000 donation for July 4th. This will enable us to have a $25,000 fireworks show instead of a $20,000 fireworks show. “

Readers may recall that the necessary funding for a full show was short until this contribution by Basin Street.  The Basin Street contribution added to the major contributions by…

  • Petaluma Refuse and Recycling $15,000
  • Petaluma Kiwanis $5,000
  • Jerico $5,000
  • Security Code 3 $1,000
  • Exchange Bank $1,000
  • Adobe Drug Task Force $1,000
  • First Community Bank $500
  • KOA $500

Individual contributions also assisted in reaching the goal. 

To add to the financial cushion for this event, Allison Mattioli of Parks and Rec advises of a fundraiser sponsored by Petaluma Kiwanis and The Lagunitas Brewing Company…

“May Merriment” will be held on Monday, May 16th from 5-7pm at the Brewery. Tickets are $20 and include all of your beer, live music by Revenant, and free appetizers provided by Green Earth Catering. Tickets can be purchased at the Petaluma Community Center, 320 N. McDowell Blvd. Monday through Thursday from 8am-5:30pm.

ALL proceeds go directly to supporting the fireworks show!

Please visit Recreation Services Facebook to view the flyer: or call (707) 778-4380 for more information. 

Finials Fireworks Pensions & Photos

 This article serves to update developments in recent stories previously posted on this site


The Petaluma Finials     


Last month, I attempted to ascertain the source for the decorative metal finials on several sidewalk poles in the downtown area. Failing in that effort, I offered a tongue in cheek answer in The Petaluma Mystery Sculpture(s)

I can now advise that the finials are not antennae to facilitate communication with the Mothership. Instead they are decorative finials made here in Petaluma by Edgar Haris, noted “…local sculptor, designer, metalsmith in descending order….”

Haris & Company
Artistic Metal Work
250-A Water Street
Petaluma, CA 94952

All Petaluma historians, official and otherwise, take note and duly record Edgar Haris as the creator of these unique ornamentals.

Petaluma Fireworks 

On February 11, I wrote about the efforts of Parks & Rec to put together the annual July 4th celebration and fireworks show. See Petaluma…You Too Can Be A Star!

Given recent articles on Petaluma 360 regarding the continuing need to raise money to meet the funding goals, I stopped by the Community Center to get an update. I believe it is safe to say that Jan Mandrell of Parks & Rec is cautiously optimistic that they will make it; however, donations are still needed to get them to the finish line. They are half way to the $50,000 goal and scrambling to get the rest…

(Roberta Guerra, Terry Connoly, Jan Mandrell, Tom D’Asto, Roseann Lille)

There have been comments on Petaluma 360 Forums about how the costs could be reduced if they would just manage things better. The fact is the planned budget for the July 4th event is extremely precise, sparse, and barebones. Jan Mandrell has many years of experience in planning these events.  For a fuller explanation of what is involved, Click Here 

Anyone interested in contributing can “Buy A Star” by making a check out to “City of Petaluma, Fireworks” and sending it to Jan Mandrell, 320 N. McDowell Blvd., Petaluma 94954. You can also donate by calling 707-778-4380 or in person at the Petaluma Community Center. The City has also set up a link on its web page (Click Here) if you want to contribute online.  Simply click on the link and scroll down to Donations. You will need to create an account if you do not already have one.

Buy A Star and Be a Star

First Your Home…Now Your Pension?  September 2010

In this two-part series (Click Here & Click Here) I told the story of a 76-year-old female Alzheimer’s patient who had received a pension for 11 years and was facing a claim by the payor that the pension was overpaid.

To briefly recap the story: “The pension in question started with a 1999 letter from the employer’s pension administrator that opened with, “This will confirm that you are entitled to receive a vested accrued benefit under the…Plan in the amount of $… per month…for your lifetime.” Then, as I reported previously, on September 17th of this year, she received a letter from the bank currently administering the pension advising that she had been overpaid and they were asking her to repay $42,814.42.”

Thanks to the assistance of an attorney retained by the family, I can now advise that the pensioner is no longer facing a claim for repayment.  The pension will be adjusted going forward. However, the attempt to recoup past payments has been dropped.


Over the last year or so, I have attempted to improve my skills with a camera through various classes, books, etc.  I think of it as raising my level of confusion to a higher plane. This effort brought me into conflict with the various platforms that display digital photos and forced me to make some decisions about format size and the ultimate end-user experience.

While the fact of the matter is that the majority of web page viewing is done on small screen mobile devices–smart phones, iPads, whatever–I have elected to focus on desktop or full screen presentations. Granted, this reduces the potential audience but to borrow from Clark Gable’s famous line in Gone with the Wind… “Frankly…I don’t give a damn.” The truth of the matter is that I have gone over to the dark side and actually prefer prints as opposed to virtual digital images, but that is another story.

With my new digital attitude firmly in place, I recently revamped my photo blog.  If you are so inclined, you can check it out (I do not recommend using your mobile phone) at The Petaluma Spectator Photo BlogIn particular, see Ski Petaluma! and Sonoma Scenes…Street, Alley, Walkway

Petaluma…You Too Can Be A Star!

Public events and celebrations don’t happen by magic.  A considerable amount of planning and fund raising is required in advance. And so it is with Petaluma’s Fourth of July celebration and fireworks show.

As the photos indicate, Petaluma’s July 4th event is more than just a fireworks show.  

According to Jan Mandrell, Recreation Supervisor, Parks & Recreation: “Our efforts are focused on developing a family friendly event and to raise enough money to develop a program with fun filled activities for everyone,but how much we receive in contributions will determine what activities we can include.”

The goal is $50,000. 

Jan advises, “If we are unable to raise enough funds by the deadline of February 28, we will not be able to provide this event for the first time in more than 20 years. We are excited to announce that Petaluma Kiwanis has once again committed to donating $5,000 to the upcoming 2011 Annual Fireworks Display. In addition, a group of Kiwanis volunteers has also offered to work to help raise funds needed to make this happen because they feel strongly about keeping the event going in our community. We are hopeful that our past donors will see the value of community and make a financial commitment to the upcoming July 4th Fireworks Celebration.”

The City has also set up a link on its web page (Click Here) to enable you to “Buy A Star” to help meet the goal. So please Buy A Star and Be a Star!

Give it a go…It’s painless…