Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Sparks in the air over Saugatuck fireworks

A possible change in the Fourth of July fireworks in Saugatuck is causing some sparks.

The Rotary Club of Saugatuck-Douglas has proposed taking over the funding and organization of the July Fourth parade and fireworks.

Spectators wait along Butler Street for the parade on July 4.
 The parade has been organized by volunteers including Linda Kinnaman for years. Kinnaman said she is stepping aside. Rotary plans to get marching bands or other music and seek donors to award prizes and trophies for floats or costumes.

Through this summer, money for the fireworks was collected by a volunteer committee. This July, organizers said they were running $5,200 short and were desperate. Only an 11th-hour plea kept the show from fizzling.

Members of Rotary approached the city council earlier this month to say the group could take over the parade and the fireworks.

“Rotary will take the leadership. We will ask for support,” Robin Bauer of Rotary told the council. Bauer has already been asking surrounding municipalities for support.

The council is interested in the proposal and asked City Manager Kirk Harrier on Monday to draw up a document spelling out how the partnership would work.

The support, though, came with some hesitation at the Oct. 18 workshop.

Councilman Mark Bekken wanted to make sure that fundraising for the Fourth of July fireworks didn’t hurt fundraising for the Venetian Festival, held later in the summer. The three-day  festival also has fireworks. Money for the pyrotechnics of both shows was raised jointly.

Fun in the July 4 parade in Saugatuck.
A fear is people would give to the Independence Day fireworks and not have money left for a Venetian Festival display.

Rotary does not want to handle anything connected with Venetian Festival.

Councilman Barry Johnson was concerned that money raised for the fireworks stays with the fireworks.

A memo from Rotary handed out to the council on Oct. 18 said any amount raised over the $10,000 needed for the July Fourth fireworks would “be used to support future fireworks or other S/D Rotary activities, or to enhance the actual display.”

“I would not support this if funds raised went for other Rotary activities,” Johnson said.

Bauer said the fireworks money will only go to the display, nothing else.

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