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Unless a financial backer steps forward, the life flame of the annual 4th of July “Fireworks at the Park” celebration may burn out in 2009.
“Basically, we’re cutting out the Fourth of July fireworks due to budgetary constraints,” Shelby County Parks and Recreation Director Clay Cottongim said. “We figured with the economy and budget constraints we needed to start looking at some cuts, and this is the first one.”
Attendance is down at the Clear Creek Park Family Activity Center, and though overall memberships are up, daily attendance, rentals and parties are all down, Cottongim said.
And those declines have had a significant negative impact on Shelbyville-Shelby County Parks and Recreation Board's bottom line.
At its meeting on Wednesday, the board decided to save money the same way that some State Parks have been doing it -- by cutting its fireworks show.
Could the show go on?
However, Cottongim said if someone were to step up and help to underwrite the event so the Parks Department would break even, the show could go on.
He said the event costs around $10,000 each year, and as fireworks expenses continue to go up, so have the losses Last year, the event lost around $3,500.
On Thursday afternoon, Shelby County Judge Executive Rob Rothenburger indicated he believed a deal with such a benefactor was close, but Cottongim said that was not the case.
A cancellation would break a string of consecutive years running back into to the early 1990s.
Shelbyville Mayor Tom Hardesty said he has fond memories of the event.
“The council members and myself have worked the gates,” he said. “It’s always been a fun event. I hate to see it go. But I understand the park has to make tough decisions.”