by Joni Astrup
The city of Elk River is looking into coordinating the July 4 fireworks show this year.
Mayor John Dietz said Jim Boyle, chair of the Elk River Independence Day Committee, is stepping aside as chair and no one else is willing to head the committee.
“I told him somehow, some way, I was going to try to find a way to save the fireworks,” Dietz told the Elk River City Council at Monday’s meeting.
The city already contributes $6,000 from the Elk River Economic Development Authority to the fireworks show, and an additional $5,000 worth of city labor to the event, which has included activities at Lions Park capped by fireworks at dusk.
Dietz said if the event consists only of fireworks this year, the city labor cost drops to $800 to $1,000 for police working traffic control. He suggested the city convert the remaining $4,000 to a cash contribution for the fireworks.
So with $10,000 from the city plus $1,800 the Elk River Independence Day Committee has carried over, $3,000 to $4,000 would be needed to put on a $15,000 fireworks show like last year’s, Dietz said. He said committee members are willing to contact past donors to raise that amount.
Dietz said the fireworks show draws thousands and there would be a lot of disappointed citizens if there were no fireworks this year.
“I think we need to do whatever we can to keep that alive,” he said.
City Administrator Cal Portner said he will refine the financial numbers and report back to the council soon. No action was taken by the council Monday.
Dietz also is recommending that the city consider including funding for the fireworks show in its 2015 budget when the budget process gets underway.
Boyle, meanwhile, is pleased at the city’s interest in the fireworks.
“I’m thrilled city leaders are looking at keeping the fireworks alive,” Boyle said. “Independence Day should always be recognized in this community.”
Boyle, who led the effort for the past four years, said he had hoped to hand the endeavor over to someone else, but it’s a tall order for citizens to lead.
“It has been an amazing run,” Boyle said. “The Elk River community is a wonderful place to do things as a community. Wherever I turned, there were always people to help make the Independence Day celebration a success.”
Elk River has a long history of a popular July 4 fireworks show.
For many years, the Elk River Area Chamber of Commerce hosted a Fourth of July celebration at Orono Park but the chamber ended its run after the 2008 event. No Fourth of July event was held in Elk River in 2009. The Elk River Independence Day Committee held its inaugural event in 2010 at Lions Park and has organized it ever since.