Fire­works to re­turn to Sa­lute to Veter­ans

Comes to North East park on July 3

Cecil Whig - - FRONT PAGE - IS­SUE By JES­SICA IAN­NETTA

jian­netta@ce­cil­whig.com

— Thanks to more than $40,000 worth of fundrais­ing, the Sa­lute to Ce­cil County Veter­ans plans to re­turn this year with a bang: on July 3, fire­works will once again light up the North­east River.

The long-run­ning event was nearly can­celed last year due to a lack of funds and ad­vanced plan­ning,

NORTH EAST

which led to the de­ci­sion to sub­sti­tute a laser show for the tra­di­tional fire­works. That switch saved the event about $20,000, but also re­ceived mixed re­ac­tions from spec­ta­tors.

Though last year’s event was smaller in scale, plan­ning for this year’s sa­lute started last Au­gust with the goal of mak­ing it the same big event peo­ple have come to ex­pect in years past, said Eu­gene Da­ley, chair­man of the event.

“I think it’s im­por­tant that we do more than just say to our veter­ans, ‘Hey, thanks,’ when we see them on the street,” he said. “This is more of a demon­stra­tion to say we do ap­pre­ci­ate you and we’re putting on an event to sa­lute you.”

The Sa­lute to Ce­cil County Veter­ans was started in 1991 by the Ce­cil County Board of Com­mis­sion­ers, who funded and spon­sored the event un­til 1995. Af­ter the com­mis­sion­ers de­cided not to spon­sor the event in 1996, it was can­celed, but re­turned in 1997 when the

town of North East stepped up to pro­vide ad­min­is­tra­tive sup­port. The town also pro­vided some money with the re­main­ing funds com­ing through do­na­tions from lo­cal busi­nesses and or­ga­ni­za­tions as well as the gen­eral public.

The com­mit­tee of­fi­cially in­cor­po­rated in May 2003 and has con­tinue to hold the event ev­ery year.

This year’s sa­lute will start at 5 p.m. in North East Com­mu­nity Park with rub­ber duckie races run by the Ce­cil County chap­ter of the Mil­i­tary Or­der of the Pur­ple Heart, pony rides and mu­sic from coun­try band South­ern Drawl, Da­ley said.

The Army Na­tional Guard in Elk­ton will also have a dis­play of mil­i­tary equip­ment and the Ro­tary Club of North East will also have a dis­play of about 100 flags that were pur­chased by peo­ple to honor the veter­ans in their life. Rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the Elk­ton Vet Cen­ter will also be on hand to talk to veter­ans about any needed re­sources, Da­ley said.

The veter­ans cer­e­mony will be­gin at 8 p.m. with the flag rais­ing and pledge of al­le­giance run by an honor guard fol­lowed by guest speak­ers. Then, a com­bined

North East, Elk­ton and Bo­hemia Manor high schools band will play pa­tri­otic songs be­fore the fire­works launch at around 9:15 p.m., Da­ley said.

Af­ter the hastily put to­gether sa­lute last sum­mer, Da­ley said the com­mu­nity’s re­sponse to this year’s event has been “phe­nom­e­nal” and he noted that lo­cal veter­ans groups have been es­pe­cially sup­port­ive. Da­ley also cred­ited Brian DeMaris, the event’s fundrais­ing chair, for the work him and his team have done to raise the money nec­es­sary to put on a full-scale event.

The fundrais­ing kicked off in March and will con­tinue through the end of June, DeMaris said. Though some of the sup­port the event has re­ceived is in the form of pledges rather than actual checks, DeMaris still ex­pects to ex­ceed the group’s fundrais­ing goal of $41,000.

DeMaris at­trib­uted this suc­cess to the fundrais­ing team’s strat­egy, which op­er­ated with the phi­los­o­phy that “a large amount of work is eas­ily han­dled by a large amount of hands,” he said. In this case, that meant break­ing the county up into 75 dif­fer­ent ar­eas with one per­son in charge of fundrais­ing in each area. Some of those ar­eas in­cluded lo­cal busi­nesses while oth­ers were neigh­bor­hoods, he added.

The fundrais­ing team had only one in-per­son meet­ing to kick-off the process and has since com­mu­ni­cated only through email and other on­line forms of com­mu­ni­ca­tions, DeMaris said. He agreed with Da­ley that the com­mu­nity’s re­sponse to re­vamp­ing the sa­lute has been tremen­dous and said al­most every­one who was ap­proached about do­nat­ing did so en­thu­si­as­ti­cally.

“The main goal (of the

event) is to ob­vi­ously sa­lute the veter­ans but at the same time cre­ate en­ergy and ex­cite­ment for the amaz­ing com­mu­nity that we have,” he said. “It should be an amaz­ing event again and we hope to con­tinue it for years to come.”

Any­one wish­ing to do­nate to the Sa­lute to Ce­cil County Veter­ans can do so by send­ing a check to Sa­lute to Ce­cil County Veter­ans, P.O. Box 413, North East 21901 or by do­nat­ing on­line at stoccv.org.

CE­CIL WHIG FILE PHOTO

Fam­i­lies and friends watch fire­works at the North East Com­mu­nity Park dur­ing the 2014 Sa­lute to Ce­cil County Veter­ans.

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