Anzar athletics in jeopardy of losing fireworks fundraiser

Local high school relies on sales during Fourth of July

A man stops to buy fireworks at a fireworks stand in San Juan Bautista on July 4. The booth is operated by Anzar High School's Athletic Department, which relies on the proceeds to help fund for sports equipment. (Juan Reyes/Free Lance)

The Anzar High Booster Club heavily relies on fundraising that’s done within the community to keep the athletics department up and running. 

Proceeds from sales at the school’s fireworks booth brought in nearly $10,000 to purchase new uniforms, balls and upgrades to sporting equipment for the students.

That cash flow is in jeopardy of becoming non-existent after San Juan Bautista City Council considered banning the sale and use of fireworks within the city.

Anzar Athletic Director Mark Cisneros said if the extra money wasn’t there then they would have to ask for donations from parents to get them extra apparel such as basketball shooting shirts. 

It also means they’d have to use outdated equipment including football helmets that need to get recertified for safety measurements.

“We do have the car washes, but at the beginning of the year we already have a big lump of money that we can already start using for the year,” Cisneros said. “Otherwise we can’t get anything going unless we get that money.”

The issue was brought up as a discussion item during a city council meeting June 14.

San Juan Bautista City Attorney Bob Rathie said that the city council asked to bring back the discussion after the last consideration, which was a resolution that allows the sale of fireworks by the Anzar Booster Club. 

It also includes the use of legal fireworks on private property by people 18 years old and above, or a minor under the supervision of a parent or guardian for this year. 

Rathie said at the time, they were tasked with bringing back a draft ordinance at an early time so that the council could review and discuss what would make the future sale, use and possession of discharge of fireworks within the city illegal. 

“An ordinance, if it was brought back to you, obviously in July or subsequently, would require two readings and would not go into effect for 30 days,” he said.

According to a city council special packet, last year the city took action to control the use of fireworks due to extremely dry drought conditions. The Code Enforcement attempted an “educational approach” to enforcement that included three citations and one arrest using a camera system the city leased during the holiday. 

Anzar High was allowed to sell fireworks this year but a new ordinance is in the works. 

Rathie said discussing the ordinance during last month’s meeting was to let the council know they heard what was said in the previous meetings.

Councilmember John Freeman said that an early fireworks show took place in his neighborhood just a week prior to the June 14 city council meeting. He mentioned that it affected several dogs in the area, including his own. 

“We need to get this done, thank you,” he said about adopting a new ordinance.

San Juan Bautista Mayor Leslie Jordan was on the same page as Freeman.

“The whole city can speak to it, the whole city heard it,” she said. “Ban them, fine them, let’s move on.”

Councilmember Scott Freels said the fireworks discharged during that weekend are already banned and illegal. He added that he was fortunate his dog wasn’t injured any more than she was.

“This is going to make things a lot easier across the board,” Freels said. “Unfortunately because of a handful of idiots we have shut down a national tradition in our little town. I’m sad about this because I used to enjoy fireworks as a kid, and I still do, but that’s all I gotta say before I say something not so good.” 

San Juan Bautista resident Jennifer Doupnik, who was working at the Anzar Booster Club booth, has two sons that will attend the high school next year. 

Both student-athletes are involved in basketball, cross country, track and field, volleyball and swimming. 

The Hawks boys’ basketball team had one of the best seasons in the program’s history. They finished with a 13-2 overall record and won the Pacific Coast Athletic League’s Arroyo Division with an unblemished 10-0 record in league play. 

Doupnik was disappointed to hear about the possibility of the school losing its Booster club money. She said it would be nice to have uniforms and equipment freshened up on a regular basis, especially Anzar being a public school.

“It’s just such a big fundraiser for us that we can’t just sell cookies at the same rate that we can sell and make this sort of funding for the school,” she said. 

Cisneros is trying to find other avenues to bring in extra cash flow to help keep Anzar athletics alive. He said the four days of revenue doesn’t come anywhere close to other fundraisers they have.

“In the past they would use this money to get them through the whole year and any extra fundraising that goes just to those groups they can splurge on accessories, shooting shirts or hats,” Cisneros said.

Cisneros mentioned having a booth gives students an opportunity to receive service learning hours. He said it also brings the parents and the community to volunteer their time for a good cause.

Doupnik got together last week with a couple of the other parents to brainstorm some ideas on what to do next. They thought of setting up a booth to sell fresh fruit during the annual rib cook-off.

The Booster club also sells strawberry shortcakes at the Gilroy Rodeo and has a stand at Aromas Day.

“Trying to come up with more original ideas, but nothing is going to compare to what we do in these four days,” she said. 

Doupnik and fellow parents plan on reaching out to the San Juan Bautista City Council to find out why they came up with the decision. 

“Maybe we can make a case on how it benefits the students as athletes,” she said.

Doupnik said athletics was important after the Covid-19 pandemic shut down all school activities. It helped the students reconnect with their peers and get back to a routine. 

“My main goal as a parent is to make sure my boys have the best opportunity, not just educationally but physically,” she said. “What being part of a team teaches them is amazing… I’d like to see us continue to have great athletics.”