Families enjoy fireworks from cemetery, officials say some leave damages

4th of July celebrations are underway, filled with fireworks, food and family. Many people enjoyed the day at the Selma Community Independence Celebration but officials say some are showing disrespect right next door and it’s costing taxpayers.
There’s a sizzle on the eve of Independence Day as festivities heat up for a celebration the people of Selma take in each year.
“Hopefully they won’t be blowing off fireworks and barbecuing steaks and hot dogs and things like that,” said Colleen Wilson.
Not the reaction you’d expect but Colleen Wilson isn’t talking about Staley Stadium. All she wants is respect for the beautiful cemetery on Floral Avenue.
“This is not a party grounds,” said Wilson.
Wilson says some people use the sacred grounds dedicated to loved ones as a park to watch fireworks leaving garbage behind.
“I need to send a message and if I’m just one person and my husband’s helping me, two of us. It’s got to start somewhere,” said Wilson.
Wilson has taught at Roosevelt Elementary for decades and keeps the memory of a former student close to her heart.
“He was hit by a car and passed away a couple of days later,” said Wilson.
That student’s grave lies here where officials say people have broken sprinklers, damaged headstones, and even light fireworks that end up costing thousands of dollars.
“Anywhere from $5,000 to $7,000 a year can be spent on fixing items that have been broken,” said Robert Allen, Chairman of the Selma Cemetery District.
Selma Police Chief Greg Garner says the cemetery is private property and it’s up to managers to request law enforcement.
“In the four years that I’ve been here as chief, I’ve never received a request from them to enforce any issues on their property during the 4th of July, said Garner.
Barriers block off entry to the cemetery but they’re ignored. And there are many families who just want to be close to loved ones who have passed. Wilson says that’s something she can support.
“It’s all about responsibility and respect,” said Wilson.
One woman says she comes here each year to be next to her mother and father who passed away. She says this is a tradition for many families.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

CBS47 On Your Side

Do you have a problem that you need help solving? Contact CBS47 and let us be On Your Side.

Phone: 559-761-0383
Email: OnYourSide@cbsfresno.com