Many Americans take for granted that they’ll be able to see fireworks on the Fourth of July, but it’s not such a given anymore.
As local governments and their community organizers struggle for funding to put on such festivities, many are turning to local small businesses for donations to help pay for their firework displays. Especially in smaller towns with more limited budgets, local businesses often help ensure the Independence Day fireworks displays stay alive.
In Englewood, Florida, more than 100 local businesses from a local Rotary Club have chipped in to put on this year’s $30,000 Fourth of July fireworks display and what they call the Firecracker Festival, which will feature live music, food vendors and games. “The dollars are raised locally by local businesses,” Ray Labadie, owner of homebuilder R.J. LaBadie Construction of Englewood, told the local ABC TV news affiliate. “It makes a big difference.”
In Dandridge, Tennessee, the annual Fourth of July celebration Shakin' the Lake was nearly canceled due to lack of funds. But Jean Riggs, owner of Steamer Trunk and Campus Cargo, convinced nearly 30 business owners in town to donate money and raised more than the $3,500 needed to keep the festivities alive. "It's one of the major things we do every year," she told WBIR, the local NBC affiliate. "Everyone felt terrible that we weren't going to have it this year."
In Attleboro, Massachusetts, local Dunkin’ Donuts franchisees pooled their money and donated $10,000 to this year’s fireworks display. The money was needed more than ever this year, local fireworks committee member Linda Alger told the Attleboro Sun Chronicle. The city, which has used donations to pay for fireworks since 1994, needed to raise $38,000 for this year’s display. Many local businesses also put out jars so locals could throw in spare change to donate.
Increasingly, many small towns and even large cities (including Seattle) have considered canceling their Fourth of July fireworks displays due to lack of money—some small towns have already canceled them. However the decision among city officials to cancel fireworks may be shortsighted, according to the National Journal. While local fireworks displays generally cost a town at least $10,000, they are often big moneymakers because they bring people into the city and encourage them to spend money at local businesses, particularly restaurants. Columbus, Ohio’s Red, White & Boom festival has a $11 million economic impact by drawing more than 250,000 area residents into the city for the July 3rd event, according to the American Pyrotechnics Association.
“These events are important to get communities together,” David Karem, president of the Louisville Waterfront Development Corporation in Kentucky, told the National Journal. “These events are a healing to differences that exist. It is a big, significant mistake on the part of the people who fund these events to cut back on them."
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