A few weeks back, a frustrated Great Bend Community Coordinator Christina Hayes went before the City Council with concerns the city’s annual Fourth of July fireworks display may fizzle due to struggles raising the necessary money. That tone changed Monday night.
“I have very good news on fundraising efforts,” Hayes told council members this week. “We have raised everything we need for 2019 and we have a great start for 2020.”
The display costs $15,000 and, of that, the city chips in $5,000. The balance must come from private donations.
In addition, it has been determined the show will take place on Wednesday night, July 3. This will mark the second year it will take place a day early.
“Last year was an extremely successful decision to move the display to the third instead of the fourth,” she said. “It was probably the best turnout we’ve had in a really long time.”
Having it before the fourth doesn’t interfere with people who have their own displays on the Independence Day and helps keep city staff from working on a holiday.
In 2017, the city took over for Sunflower Diversified Services who had raised the display funds for several years. However, in that year, the city opted not to have a July 4 exhibit and instead augmented its Party in the Park show in August.
The first Fourth of July show put on by the city took place last year.
Hayes said Monday the committee formed two years ago to assure the continuation of the display approached her, and members said they had made some calls. “They want to make sure we can provide fireworks for our community year after year.”
So, the committee is going to help with fundraising activities going forward. But, she stressed, “it is still open to anyone who wants to donate. It is not closed off to the committee only.”
This includes those who want to pitch in $5, $10 or $20. If neighborhoods want to band together, they are welcome to. “Those people are important to us, too.”
The city, along with the committee, are going to create a fund to help perpetuate the display, she said. Among the ideas are selling hot dogs at Party in the Park and concessions at other city events.
It wasn’t easy for Hayes to be the bearer of bad news when she updated the council on March 20. She still worries the city’s reputation may be tarnished.
“My biggest concern is that when I have to come and say ‘we’re struggling to raise money for fireworks,’” she said. “What it does is create an unstable environment and creates a fear in our community and I don’t want that. I feel that does give a negative image of what is happening.”
They are open to any ideas, she said. “This is an aspect of city marketing and I think it is a little damaged because of negative opinions and I want to make all of us feel better and know that we have some stability, at least for something as simple as a fireworks show.”
Great Bend is an “amazing place,” Hayes said. “We’ve got great people here and I think we have something to be proud of. I think we are all on the same page when we say that.”
When Hayes went to the council on March 20, she lamented the shortfall in fundraising efforts. At that time, she was about $5,800 short and finding donors was growing increasingly challenging.
Several years ago, this was a $30,000 show. Now, the cost is half of that, but Hayes said the reduced amount still provides an excellent display.