BRATTLEBORO—Kevin O’Connor remembers taking in the Fourth of July fireworks show at Living Memorial Park as a child with his family.
“It was magical,” the journalist and member of the By the People: Brattleboro Goes Fourth citizens committee said, recalling the bursts of color in the night sky.
This year marks Brattleboro’s 41st annual Independence Day celebration.
Yet for O’Connor, the committee, and the community, a sea change accompanies this year’s July 4 festivities: For the first time, the committee will ask community members to chip in to support the next year’s fireworks.
The citizens committee has launched a fundraising initiative called Pay So We Glow, a lighthearted take on Pay As You Throw rubbish disposal fees.
The all-volunteer effort must raise the money to pay for local bands, pyrotechnics, liability insurance, and security.
Previously, corporate sponsors paid for the fireworks. This is the final summer, however, that corporate sponsor Entergy Corp., owner of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant, will donate $6,000 for the annual fireworks display. If there is a fireworks show in 2015, it’ll be home-grown.
The citizens committee is not alone in waving goodbye to Entergy’s corporate giving. Multiple local nonprofits will see — or have seen — a drop in donations from Entergy, which will close VY later this year.
The end of Entergy’s corporate sponsorship could represent a significant budgetary loss for nonprofits serving vulnerable community members. According to its website, Entergy donates about $435,000 annually to the community through open grants, site sponsorships, annual events, and other charitable giving.
O’Connor said that the committee realized its bind. While the committee wanted to throw the town a great party, it didn’t want to compete with social agencies such as the Food Shelf or local homeless shelters for remaining — and dwindling — local charitable giving.
“We’re willing to tighten our belt,” said O’Connor.
The committee feels that if everyone who attends the parade and festivities at Living Memorial Park next month were to chip in a couple of dollars, then next year the fireworks will remain amazing.
But, he added of individual donors, “if you want the tradition to continue, we need your help.”
In addition, the committee invites individuals, businesses, and organizations to offer donations at its annual WTSA radiothon, on Friday, June 13, at the Brattleboro Area Chamber of Commerce on Main Street.
The day starts with a parade at 10 a.m. that goes down Canal and Main streets to the Common.
A hallmark of the July 4 parade is that it is open to every local organization and political group.
After, the town Recreation & Parks Department offers a series of public concerts, sporting events, and family activities at Living Memorial Park on Guilford Street from 1:30 p.m. to the start of the fireworks at 9:30.