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Sunday, April 24, 2011

FROM WALLINGFORD - Looking ahead to the Fourth of July

by Jason Zandri
As published in the Record Journal Sunday April 24, 2011

With the end of May fast approaching, fundraising for the annual fireworks show is now in high gear. As you may recall, last year funding for the annual fireworks celebration was cut from Wallingford’s budget and the show was simply cancelled.

On April 18th, after the budget talks ended, I decided I was going to dedicate the time to try to raise the fund to save the event. With the help of some other dedicated citizens and very generous donations from major contributors like Choate as well as hundreds of smaller donations from other businesses and John and Jane Citizen, the show was saved; $30,347 was raised in 34 days.

This year too, the show is going unfunded so we have been hitting the ground since the beginning of March collecting for the event. As of this April 18th our fundraising balance is $13,000.

From the “good” perspective, we are $13,000 farther along than we were at this time last year. The “bad” perspective is the fact that if you average forward six weeks to the campaign deadline based on the take of the past six weeks you can see how we are going to potentially miss our goal by about $4,000.

I am not without hope that we couldn’t pull this off and I intend to collect it all or run out of time trying.

As with last year, we need about $30,000 to restore the show. We had originally hoped that by starting earlier we could collect $40,000 and restore the R Band and their performance to the event but given the current campaigning averages there is no way we’re going to be able to do that. Last year we didn’t consider trying but we were more hopeful this year.

We do have one final major fundraiser coming up on May 6th; a concert night planned at the Stillwood Inn at 7PM featuring The Suspects, Bluzberry Pi and 42nd Street. We are hopeful that with that event, the additional collecting of donations that we are doing at local businesses, and the one off donations that people are mailing to us that we can make that final amount as we did last year just under the wire.

This event is a nice thing to have. It is not a necessity but it is something I would like to see preserved and available for future generations to enjoy. I am in good company with respect to the generous donations that I am receiving from people. Clearly it is a minority of people, but with a town of 46,000 and an estimated 5,000 to 10,000 that attend the event it is only a minority of the town that goes to the show anyway.

The celebration of the birth of our nation is worth my time, effort and a fairly large sum of my own money to try to preserve the 4th of July fireworks celebration.

I get a lot of, “what a waste of money — to be blown up in the sky for a 30minute show” from the nay-sayers. They are entitled to their opinions.

I disagree, as does every single person that drops a dollar into one of my collection buckets. By offering a means to save the event through the collection of donations I am stimulating the economy — if there was no show there would be no vendors making money that night on do-dads and ice cream. There would be no overtime earned by the police, fire and public works employees (paid for by the fund — we are covering all costs).

All this and we are offering a nice family event for one and all.

In this day and age of “nothing to do and no time to do it” I can’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday night.

See you at the fireworks!

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