Fireworks to return to Salute to Veterans
Comes to North East park on July 3
— 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,
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.
Families and friends watch fireworks at the North East Community Park during the 2014 Salute to Cecil County Veterans.