on July 2, 2012 by admin in Cleveland, Comments (0)

Tight city budgets won’t stop Fourth of July fireworks displays

CLEVELAND, Ohio-- Fourth of July fireworks displays are making a comeback in Northeast Ohio, despite tight budgets in many cities across the region.

John Sorgi of the American Fireworks Co. in Hudson attributed part of the turnaround to private companies and organizations picking up tabs for the shows. As a result, he said, sales have been the best since the economic slump began three years ago.

"What we have found is one of the last things cities want to cut is their Fourth of July fireworks shows," he said.

Sorgi mentioned the Summit County city of Hudson as a good example of a place where outside help kept fireworks displays alive. The city canceled its show in 2006 for the first time in more than 30 years because of budgetary and sponsorship problems.

Since then, Sorgi said, the Hudson Community Foundation has raised money for the shows.

This year, he said, the average city spends $3,000 on fireworks. Larger communities spend about $25,000, while the biggest cities average between $50,000 and $60,000.

Sorgi said some of the bigger fireworks shows in Northeast Ohio are in Hudson, Westlake, Wickliffe, and the Portage Lakes area of Coventry Township.

Patricia Fowler, programs coordinator for the Lake County city of Wickliffe, said the city covers most of the $18,000 spent on Independence Day fireworks. About $3,000 of that total comes from local businesses.

Westlake Mayor Dennis Clough said his city pays all of the $25,000 cost for the West Side suburb's fireworks display,

Lori Seeman, office manager in Coventry Township in Summit County, said the community's fireworks are privately sponsored by the Portage Lakes Fireworks Association. The Plain Dealer was unable to reach anyone at that organization.

But several larger Northeast Ohio communities no longer have fireworks displays.

Euclid's decades-old event was put to rest in 2010. Mayor Bill Cervenik said the East Side suburb could no longer afford the annual extravaganza.

"When you figure in the costs for cleanup, security, overtime and the purchase of the fireworks themselves, that total cost came to $100,000," Cervenik said. "Ours was a larger than normal show, but with our current reduced manpower because of layoffs, I was not comfortable blowing $100,000 on a fireworks display.

"I think Northeast Ohio should have one big regional show ... that makes the most sense financially."

Parma Mayor Timothy DeGeeter said his city has not had a fireworks display since 2008, and will not have one this year. The city used to spend around $60,000 for their Independence Day shows.

In Lorain County, Elyria also will be without fireworks as it has since 2009, but Mayor Kelly Brinda said the fireworks drought will likely come to an end next year.

"We actually could have had one this year despite a tight city budget," Brinda said. "We were able to raise $60,000 from the private sector, but decided to use that money to open seven summer camps for kids. They'll be able to attend free of charge.

"I thought it was wiser to use that money for the camps. ... But next year I can see our fireworks show coming back. It costs $80,000, with the money coming from corporate sponsorship."

Corporate sponsorship is a major reason why Cleveland continues to have a successful display every year, according to Downtown Cleveland Alliance Director Gina Morris.

"While we have a lot of city constituents, FirstEnergy is the main corporate sponsor," Morris said. "They've been a mainstay for several years. Like the city itself, they know fireworks are an important part of Independence Day.

"We want everyone in the area to come and watch this show. It's a worthwhile free community event open to everyone who wants to come, with free family events sponsored by RTA."

Article source: http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2012/07/tight_city_budgets_wont_stop_f.html

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