Archive for Thursday, May 8, 2008

Fireworks display funding gets kick start

Steve Ingle, Baldwin City, wires a large firework fountain for the July 4th fireworks show at the Baldwin City ball fields.

Steve Ingle, Baldwin City, wires a large firework fountain for the July 4th fireworks show at the Baldwin City ball fields.

May 8, 2008

Summer is almost here and fireworks will soon be lighting up the Fourth of July sky during Baldwin City's annual Independence Day celebration.

With these festivities in mind, Sheri Caldwell, one of the volunteers in charge of preparing the Fourth of July celebration, approached the Baldwin City Council with hopes of receiving funding at Monday's meeting. After minimal debate, the council agreed unanimously to allot the celebration the $500 the council had budgeted for the event. The total cost for this year's festivities will be around $6,000.

In an interview Tuesday, Caldwell said the Fourth of July festival is a great boon for the Baldwin community.

"It draws people in from Ottawa, Wellsville, Perry, all the surrounding area," Caldwell said. "People come so their kids have somewhere to go and that brings commerce to town."

This year, the Baldwin City Recreation Commission, with new Director Steve Friend at its helm, has moved in to help the preparations for the festivities.

"Steve has been a great new addition and I've enjoyed working with him," Caldwell said.

In addition to receiving new help from the recreation commission, there are some other changes to the festivities this year.

While in previous years there had been play equipment such as a Moonwalk at the ball fields, this year the equipment will be at the city pool. There will also be a poolside concession stand providing food and drink for event participants.

Hoping to hedge costs and increase fundraising, the committee in charge of preparations for the event has also implemented other changes.

Earlier in the year, Shad England, a volunteer helping with this year's festivities, obtained a license for shooting off fireworks. However, even with England's license, the committee still has to contract with Greg Sanders, owner of a fireworks business, to shoot the fireworks because the committee doesn't own a firing board, which is needed to fire off powerful fireworks.

A firing board would cost $10,000 to $12,000, which the committee plans to make through increased fundraising activity. They have already talked with Wheat State Pizza about organizing a couple of fundraisers later in the year and the group also receives funding from other Baldwin City businesses.

"It would be wonderful if we could raise the money within the next couple of years," Caldwell said. "It depends on how generous the community and participants are."

In addition to cutting the cost of hiring someone to shoot the fireworks, a new firing board would also be a fundraising tool, allowing the committee to sell its services to various groups organizing events. The firing board could be used to fire off confetti at high school football games every time the team scored a touchdown and they could also use the firing board at other local events, such as the Maple Festival, Caldwell said.

The committee also built a portable firing stand this year, which cost between $3,000 to $4,000 to build. The stand saves the committee the man-hours they had previously used to dig holes to fire the explosive from. The firing stand can be used to fire the smaller explosives, but a firing board would still be needed to shoot off the more powerful explosives.

With the festivities approaching, Caldwell said she would still like to get a few more people to volunteer.

"We have the community to do most of the work. " Caldwell said. "I'm always looking for people to help and have fun."

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