Editorial: Don’t let the fireworks fizzle in Northampton

Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Fireworks to celebrate the Fourth of July. What could be simpler or more patriotic? The first Fourth of July celebration came in 1776 at the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. We can thank John Adams for the fireworks idea.

John Adams wrote his wife, Abigail, on July 3, 1776, saying that “the day will be the most memorable in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival ... it ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade ... bonfires and illuminations (fireworks) from one end of this continent to the other, from this day forward forevermore.”

But as with most things, it’s not as simple as it sounded back in those revolutionary times.

Case in point: The Family Fourth Celebration organizers in Northampton are finding it increasingly difficult to reach their fundraising goal each year.

With the event now in its fourth year, organizers have seen once-dependable sources of support dry up as the sluggish economy takes its toll.

The last two weeks have seen an uptick in donations for the Northampton festivities, which is planned for June 28 at Look Park. As of Monday, the volunteer organization had collected $13,500 toward its goal of $22,000 to pay for the whole shooting match.

Organizers say they need to reach $17,000 by the end of this month before moving forward to hire a fireworks company and make arrangements for bands and logistics like bathroom facilities and signs.

They say that if they reach the $17,000 goal by May 1, they are confident they can collect the additional money needed through donations and contributions to make this year’s goal and get a head start on next year’s event.

The Gazette printed a Page One story two weeks ago outlining the relative struggle the group was having this year. After that, private citizens stepped forward to the tune of nearly $5,000 to help the red, white and blue cause. But more is still needed.

The Family Fourth’s chairwoman, Priscilla Ross, says struggles with funding could eventually leave the city without the fireworks and music event this year and in years to come.

Ross said that when businesses and residents were approached the first year, their response was overwhelmingly enthusiastic. Since then, donations have dropped off year-to-year, but this year has been the most sluggish so far.

The event still has a great deal of support from the city, Ross said, which provides police and fire department personnel and assistance from the Recreation Department.

Other fundraising strategies like donation cans at local businesses and use of crowd-funding Website indiegogo.com are also in the works in an effort to stave off cancellation, Ross said.

John Adams would be proud of all those who have stepped up to save the celebration.

Those who have not yet donated can help by visiting the event’s website, www.northamptonfamilyfourth.com. For more information about the event or to volunteer, contact Ross at 586-0888.