Fireworks are a popular Fourth of July tradition in Marion, and this year the Smyth County town is hoping residents will help to cover the cost.
Faced with rising expenses and dwindling dollars, leaders say the town cannot shoulder the entire cost this year. Town council has set aside $2000, and leaders hope others will kick in a few thousand more.
Ken Heath is the Director of Community and Economic Development. "Independence Day has always been a big deal. We've always been a patriotic small town and that's what we're proud of," Heath said. "And we want to be able to provide a good quality product for our citizens, not only of Marion, but all around on the 4th of July."
The city must order the fireworks soon to make sure they arrive in time. The deadline for donations is June 14th.
Here is the text of the news release from the Town of Marion:
MARION VA FIREWORKS PROGRAM NEEDS COMMUNITY SUPPORT TO CONTINUE
The Town of Marion’s annual Fourth of July may be a little less exciting this year. At the regular council meeting, members discussed rising costs and dwindling financial support, and how that will impact the traditional fireworks program.
In years past, local industry sponsored the fireworks and hosted live music, games, and a community picnic. But as industries left, and belts tightened, the fireworks shifted first to local business sponsors, and now to the Town government.
“The cost of doing a traditional fireworks show, like we have in the past, is about $9,000,” Marion’s Director of Community and Economic Development Ken Heath told Town Council. “Last year, because of budget shortfalls, we reduced that to just over $5,000. This year, with local businesses stretching their donation dollars and the other three government entities not providing any funding, it leaves the Town of Marion to pick up the costs. ”
“In addition to the direct costs of the fireworks, there are costs for the shooter team, the overtime for the police officers, even the cost of paying for the school custodian to be onsite for the day,” Marion Town Manager Bill Rush explained.
After a lengthy discussion where eliminating the fireworks altogether was discussed, the Town Council ultimately agreed to provide $2,000 toward the purchase of the fireworks and to cover all the associated labor and licensing costs this year. They directed Heath to contact local businesses, industry, and supporters, as well as the three other government entities in the county, and to work with local media to solicit donations to help purchase additional fireworks. But time is critical. The fireworks must be ordered soon to get here in time.
Marion mayor David Helms signed the letter, asking supporters to provide donations by Friday, June 14th. “Every penny we bring in through this campaign will go directly to buying fireworks to make our show bigger for the community,” said Helms. “We want to celebrate and give everybody a good show, but the costs just keep going up and the donations keep going down. I’m hoping the community will help us continue this tradition by contributing what they can.”
Anyone interested in making a donation may drop off their donation at Marion’s Town Hall (138 West Main Street) or send their check to: Fireworks, C/O The Town of Marion, Post Office Box 1005, Marion, VA 24354-1005. Remember, deadline for receipt of all donations is FRIDAY, JUNE 14.