Get behind effort to keep fireworks going

Written by Observer editorial reports June 28, 2010 06:19 pm
The Union County Fireworks Action Committee will once again provide a fireworks show and community gathering on the Fourth of July at Community Stadium, just as it has done for the past couple of decades. But the all-volunteer group’s coffers are getting a little thin, as are its ranks. If the community wants to ensure the July 4 shows continue, both this year and beyond, people are going to have to chip in and step up.
Putting on the show at Community Stadium each year costs about $10,000 — $7,000 to $8,000 for the fireworks display and a couple thousand for related expenses, primarily entertainment. For years the fireworks committee had little trouble soliciting and raising the needed funds, usually with a sizeable sum left over as seed money for the next year. But raising the money has become more difficult, even with the prize raffle that was developed several years ago.

An even bigger challenge is finding people willing to carry on the effort. La Grande Fire Chief Bruce Weimer has been guiding the effort for about 14 years. Steve Combs has served as the fundraising catalyst for about a decade. They are assisted by Karla Sorweide. The three are ready to pass the baton to a new committee, though Weimer says he’d be happy to stay involved.

The preferable solution, Weimer says, would be for a service club or some other group to take over the organization and fundraising as a service project. He cautions, however, that it shouldn’t be viewed as a fundraiser. Money raised is put back into the show. Putting on the show is a community service.

If no group is willing to step forward, at the very least the action committee needs some new blood. Volunteers, especially those willing to go out and seek donations and raffle prizes, are needed.

If neither solution can be found, there’s no guarantee that there would be a fireworks show next year. The community might not think that’s a big deal now, but it would be come July 4 next year.

Is there a group out there willing to step up? Or some new volunteers willing to serve on the action committee?

First, let’s all do what we can to make sure this year’s show can be paid for. Make a donation or buy raffle tickets. Several local businesses and Union County step up every year to provide seed money for the show. And a lot of people buy raffle tickets, half the proceeds of which go to the groups selling the tickets. But the manpower needed to ensure that the show goes on year after year is in need of some reinforcements.

Anyone who is interested in stepping up or wants to find out more can call Combs at 541-786-2250.