Recession jeopardizes July 4th fireworks

April 8, 2009 2:53:57 PM PDT
July 4th is still three months away but the economy is putting some fireworks displays in jeopardy. west suburban Batavia is considering canceling its 4th of July show. Now, some supporters are turning to the internet to try to keep the tradition alive.

In the western suburbs, there are few events that bring out the pride -- and the crowds -- like Batavia's 4th of July fireworks. But like so much else in this turbulent economy, the privately-funded spectacle is on life support -- as organizers turn to the world wide web for sponsorship money.

Welcome to the city of energy. A place that celebrates its 175-year history in full municipal color.

Displays like this cost Batavia $35,000 to put on and the recession has claimed about a third of their private sector-only funding.

"Ask any adult what memories they have from their childhood and some people will tell you about Christmas or Easter or whatever, everybody will tell you about Fourth of July fireworks," said Roger Breisch, Batavia Fireworks Committee.

The chair of the fireworks committee needs $10,000 for an event that attracts 50,000 every 4th of July. So a Facebook group has been set up to solicit donations under a 5-5-5 plan -- get five people to talk about the fireworks for five minutes and donate five dollars, online.

"This is a community run show and it has been for 20 years we are proud of what we have got if they can make a donation great, if they can't please just send it on to five of their friends," said Austin Dempsey, volunteer.

Five dollars for the comfort of a tradition and at the Batavia creamery, where they're dishing out comfort food and a portion of future sales to the cause -- it is clear that the annual event is a tie that binds.

"First time I saw it I was surprised. I have seen Chicago fireworks. These aren't nearly compared to that but it was surprisingly big," said Kirk Jansons, Batavia Creamery.

A notion that most business owners we talked to ignore, they admit at their own peril.

"I think it is hard to ask the business owners for donations at this time for donations but it could be possible, it could be possible," said Bernadette Thomas, Elan Hair Salon.

"It is the United States of America and it is its birthday. People love it," said Breisch.

They sure do. And people donating $100 on Facebook will get an embroidered U.S. flag. But economic trouble has forced nearby North Aurora to give up their 4th of July fireworks.

Illinois 14th District congressman Bill Foster tells ABC7 he'll work with affected mayors in the area to ensure "families of the Fox Valley have an enjoyable 4th of July."


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