Fireworks funding lives on for another day

The recent dry weather kept the organizers of Independence Day celebrations on their toes. One had to cancel, another had to postpone until Labor Day weekend and another decided that the show must go on as scheduled.

Posted on July 4, 2012 at 1:00 a.m.

ELKHART — Fireworks displays planned for Independence Day celebrations in Elkhart and Goshen fizzled, but that doesn’t mean funding efforts will be wasted.

In Elkhart, the city-financed display will be used on Labor Day weekend. And in Goshen, the not-for-profit group that oversees the display will save its donations collected for this year and put them toward the fireworks display planned for one year from now.

This year, $10,000 was budgeted by the city of Elkhart to pay for the cost of fireworks, a band, a sound system and portable restrooms, said Karin Frey, superintendent for Elkhart’s parks department.

The fireworks, including liability insurance, costs about $8,000.

However, the total cost of the entire fireworks celebration often exceeds the $10,000 made available by the city.

In past years, the city made up any shortage by charging for parking or admission, but that changed this year after Frontier Communications offered to provide some financial support.

Frey said the city always appreciates corporate support, especially under growing budgetary constraints.

The city also accepts donations.

“We gladly accept those and really appreciate it,” Frey said.

The United States Army Field Band, which was part of the fireworks celebration, will perform instead at McNaughton Park at 7 p.m. The band is government-sponsored and features active duty members. The band performed in Elkhart two years ago and wanted to return and perform free of charge.

“This is a great honor for us to have them back,” Frey said.

In Goshen, money generated for this year’s fireworks will be used next year.

For the first time in 25 years, Celebrate America had to cancel its Independence Day bash in Goshen because of a drought. The celebration was canceled only one other time, and that was because of rain.

“We talked about postponing until Labor Day weekend, but with the nature of the event and focus on the Fourth of July and celebrating America, we chose to keep it an Independence Day event,” said Jim Shrock, who helps organize the event.

The fireworks show was supposed to be last Sunday night with music and a tribute to Vietnam War veterans at Black Squirrel Golf Club. But that will have to wait until next year.

The annual Fourth of July extravaganza takes about $25,000 to stage, Shrock said. The budget covers fireworks, two hours of music, sound equipment, professional fireworks technicians, police officers to patrol the grounds and work traffic control and firefighters on standby in case of an emergency. The event attracted nearly 22,000 people last year, he estimated.

“It takes a lot of effort and a lot of work,” Shrock said, adding that volunteers from First Baptist Church in Goshen help people to their seats.

Shrock said Celebrate America mailed letters to its donors explaining the reasons for the cancellation. The donors who have responded to the letter, he said, have asked to use their donations for next year’s event.

“In a way, this is a good thing because this gives us a buffer for next year, and we maybe we can expand,” Shrock said.

The town of Nappanee finances its fireworks the same way as Elkhart. The town provides $9,000 and makes up any extra costs through donations, said Kim Ingle, clerk-treasurer.

Nappanee’s fireworks display is scheduled for tonight at Stauffer Park.


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