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THOUSANDS THRONG TO OOH AND AAH AT VALLEY FIREWORKS.

Byline: Lisa Van Proyen Daily News Staff Writer

Thousands celebrated Independence Day in the San Fernando Valley on Friday with food, magic and what else - fireworks.

``It's part of the Fourth of July to see the fireworks show,'' said Ruth Eiermann, who attended the Fourth of July festivities at Valley College in Van Nuys. ``America means freedom.''

Though generations apart, Michael Infantado, 11, shared Eiermann's thoughts.

``It's about America. It's about people being free. That's what I think,'' the boy said of Independence Day, as he strolled around food booths, adorned in his flashy 4-foot-high balloon hat at the community college.

``I also think it's fun with the things you get to do . . . I've seen magic, gone to booths and we got balloons,'' he said.

To others, the holiday simply meant a day off from work and staking out a shady spot under a tree to indulge in a long nap and partaking in a traditional family picnic of fried chicken, cole slaw and chips until the grand show began.

``It's better than being locked inside the house. It's so hot,'' said Susan Figueroa, who lives nearby the college campus, where temperatures reached 97 degrees Friday.

Pat Henderson of Glendale was forced to break her 20-year-long tradition of heading to Pierce College in Woodland Hills for its annual show after the college president and its council decided to end the fireworks display.

``This was the closest one,'' she said of the celebration at Valley College.

Pierce College decided to end the fireworks shows after the public became outraged last year over first-time ($10 adults, $5 for children and seniors) charges to view the fireworks both, from the stadium and on college grounds outside the stadium last year.

Last year's show was met with widespread resentment, some crowd and traffic-control problems, including groups of angry gate-crashers. Plus, Pierce officials said they spent tens of thousands of dollars in previous years to clean up and repair property damage by vandals.

On Friday, Sandy Lupercio said she was refreshed to see officers enforcing no alcohol and gangbangers at Valley College.

``It's clean. There's no gangs, who take advantage of every celebration,'' the mother of two said, as she watched a parrot playing dead during a bird show.

Many in the crowd were pleased that the event at Valley College was free of charge - thanks to Gene Waldman, the event chairman for the celebration at his alma mater. When he heard Pierce would be without one - he sought help from local companies to sell food to help raise funds for the activities.

The Daily News was among the sponsors of the Valley College event.

Other donors included Granny Goose potato chips, Los Angeles Party Rents, Pepsi, Horace Heidt Estates, and Laura Bell Productions.

Thousands of others attended other fireworks shows in the Valley, including those at the Recreation Park in the city of San Fernando and at Cal State Northridge, which hosted carnival rides, musical performances, games and sky divers.
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Copyright 1997, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jul 5, 1997
Words:496
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