As published in the Record Journal, Saturday May 21, 2011
By Robert Cyr
WALLINGFORD — The annual Independence Day-weekend fireworks display, dropped by the town and saved by two residents last year, is $6,000 short of the amount needed to hold the half-hour celebration, attended annually by about 10,000 people.
Event coordinator Jason Zandri said it costs $24,000, half for the display and the rest to pay overtime for police and fire personnel. The deadline to raise the money is Friday, and Zandri said he’s going to ask Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr. for an extra three or four days.
“I am unfortunately overwhelmed doing this, and can’t mail letters to everyone I’d like to,” he said. “I’m not really thinking I can’t get that money over the next 10 days — it will materialize.”
Dickinson, who hasn’t yet heard from Zandri about an extension, said the town will need to know by the end of next week whether or not there’s enough money for the entire show, to allow time for securing state permits and scheduling employees from the Police Department, Public Works and the Fire Department.
“We’ve indicated we do not have money in the budget for this kind of purpose, so the money has to be raised by outside means,” he said. “It’s a showing of community support for it, or not. If there aren’t funds sufficient to do it, we certainly need to understand that.
”The fireworks show, which would be held July 2, could get some last-minute support, the way a late push made it a reality last year. In the last week of fundraising in 2010, Choate Rosemary Hall made a $5,000 donation. That allowed Zandri and his fundraising partner, Town Councilor Craig Fishbein, to meet their goal, and it gave them a $4,000 head start on this year’s drive.
In November, the Wallingford Fireworks Fund Inc. won nonprofit status from the Internal Revenue Service after being rejected twice. Fishbein and Zandri rewrote the application with help from the secretary of the state’s office, and the fund was accepted as a 501(c)(3) organization, allowing people to claim the gifts as charitable donations on their tax returns.
The fireworks are launched from a knoll near Moran Middle School, and Zandri said he’ll be mailing requests for donations to that part of town.