Donations needed for Joliet’s July 4 fireworks
By Bob Okon email@example.com May 12, 2011 8:17PM
Fireworks go off on the river at Bicentennial Park for Joliet's Fourth of July celebration. | Sun-Times Media file photo
Updated: September 29, 2011 12:35AM
JOLIET — Maybe it’s one of those tentative signs of the economy getting better. Plans for Independence Day fireworks are back on a normal track for the first time in three years.
Billie Limacher Bicentennial Park will host fireworks July 3, and July 4 fireworks will be at Memorial Stadium.
That clockwork regularity was in peril the last two years as the usual contributions for the stadium fireworks show became harder to get.
It was two years ago that organizers said they would have to cancel the Fourth of July fireworks show at Memorial Stadium unless there was an injection of donations. They got the money, and the show went on.
Then last year, the city of Joliet, facing its own budget problems, dropped its $10,000 contribution to the Fourth of July fireworks. Planners announced they would merge the two shows into one at Bicentennial Park. But the merger threatened tradition, a backlash ensued, and car dealer Terry D’Arcy stepped forward to lead another fundraising drive that saved the Memorial Stadium fireworks.
Things are back to normal this year.
The Joliet July 4th Celebration Committee sent out its annual request for contributions two weeks ago, and things are going well so far, said Mary Jaworski, one of the event organizers.
“We’re getting a very nice response,” Jaworski said.
The committee has adjusted to the loss of the city money, she said. But the show costs more than $27,000 to put on, and Jaworski credited local businesses and organizations for volunteering the money needed to put on a show that costs the public nothing.
“This is a free community event, but it has to be paid for somehow,” she said.
The committee last year started a $100 contribution level aimed at businesses and individuals who could not come up with the traditional contribution levels of $250, $500 and $5,000 or more.
Ninety-seven people contributed $100 last year.
“We would like to see 200 individuals or businesses contribute $100,” said committee member Russ Slinkard.
Slinkard is chief executive of the Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry, and Jaworski is vice president of the chamber. But they emphasize that the fireworks committee is not a chamber organization, a fact that they want people to recognize so they know that the show depends on community contributions.
Fundraising this year again will feature a June 3 radiothon on WJOL-AM. The radiothon last year was a big help and “so much fun,” Jaworski said. “People actually walked in with checks for $100. They wanted to be part of the event.”
Those interested in making donations can send them to: Joliet July 4th Celebration; P.O. Box 752; Joliet, IL 60434.
Or, call 815-727-5371 for more information.
The Billie Limacher Bicentennial Park fireworks show on July 3 is funded separately and will be held at the park that night. The cost of the show is divided between Bicentennial Park and the City Center Partnership, which promotes business and events downtown.
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