Bud­gets in red, cities sing the blues over 4th of July events

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY JEN­NIFER HARPER

So much for the rock­ets’ red glare, not to men­tion the ca­dence of the town band or the pa­rade of high-step­ping lo­cals.

The re­ces­sion has hit the Fourth of July.

From sea to shin­ing sea, com­mu­ni­ties have ei­ther cur­tailed or can­celed their star-span­gled plans for the hol­i­day be­cause of bud­get woes. Among the many: Vineland, N.J.; Shawnee, Kan.; Colorado Springs; Reno, Nev.; Ply­mouth, Mass.; Cape Coral, Fla.; Madi­son Heights, Mich.; and Mon­terey, Calif.

“We were just shocked when the city can­celed our July Fourth pa­rade. Our jaws just hit the ground. There was a huge pub­lic out­cry, be­cause this is our town’s cen­ten­nial,” said Bob Cau­dle of Ro­seville, an­other Cal­i­for­nia city that was forced to tone down its cel­e­bra­tory fer­vor for fi­nan­cial rea­sons.

Vexed that lo­cal of­fi­cials still ap­proved a pricey float for the Tour­na­ment of Roses Pa­rade on New Year’s Day, Mr. Cau­dle has gone proac­tive.

“You bet I did. We asked the city how much they needed for the pa­rade, which is about $10,000. We organized a pri­vate ‘save the pa­rade’ fund. We’ve got a lit­tle ta­ble set up for do­na­tions down the street,” he said. “And the way things look right now, we’re go­ing to hit our mark.”

Fam­i­lies, busi­nesses, friends and even sym­pa­thetic folks from out of state have con­trib­uted small amounts and large sen­ti­ments.

“Who doesn’t love a pa­rade? We got money from Seat­tle. Lo­cally, peo­ple fondly re­mem­ber this pa­rade from their past. They’re not go­ing to let it go, and they think it’s just crazy this hap­pened,” said Mr. Cau­dle, a lo­cal events plan­ner.

In­deed, Amer­i­cans are loath to give up their July Fourth cel­e­bra­tions. Some lo­cales are sim­ply for­go­ing the big-ticket items for sim­ple events with a down­home touch — pub­lic pic­nics, dog pa­rades, house-dec­o­rat­ing con­tests, flea mar­kets, art dis­plays, bike races, pub­lic ora­tory.

Some are re­turn­ing to the heart­felt roots of the hol­i­day.

Glen­wood Springs, Colo., has organized an “Amer­ica the Beau­ti­ful” po­etry and es­say con­test for its fes­tiv­i­ties, the winning en­tries to be read dur­ing a mu­si­cal pro­gram. Pottstown, Pa., will stud a field with Amer­i­can flags to honor lo­cal po­lice, fire and mil­i­tary per­son­nel. Brain­tree, Mass., will show­case World War II re-en­ac­tors in au­then­tic uni­forms at the lo­cal pa­rade.

But no one should fret about cut­backs in Wash­ing­ton; the na­tion’s cap­i­tal will cel­e­brate as much as ever.

“Things get un­der way July 3 on the Na­tional Mall, ac­tu­ally. Two con­certs, pa­rade, Folk­life Fes­ti­val, fire­works. Noth­ing has changed for the ‘Capi­tol Fourth’ cel­e­bra­tion,” said Na­tional Park Ser­vice spokesman Christo­pher Watts.

Pub­lic cel­e­bra­tions are tricky busi­ness for lo­cal of­fi­cials fac­ing cut­backs in town bud­gets. Most mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties must foot the bill for py­rotech­nics or live mu­sic — along with po­lice and emer­gency over­time, and cleanup, as well as dull but nec­es­sary fac­tors such as li­a­bil­ity in­sur­ance.

Colorado Springs will go without its own of­fi­cial cel­e­bra­tion, but plans to com­bine re­sources with nearby Fort Car­son on July 3, said city spokes­woman Sue Sk­iff­in­g­ton-Blum­berg.

Fire­works plans al­most fiz­zled in Ben­ning­ton, a pic­turesque lit­tle spot in the ver­dant moun­tains of south­west­ern Ver­mont.

Money for the dis­play of booms and sparkles dis­ap­peared af­ter cuts were made in the town’s dis­cre­tionary spending two months ago; in 2008, the cost was $12,000. A lo­cal fundrais­ing ef­fort ini­tially proved a dud.

But some­where, a fuse was still lit.

“I am happy to re­port that a cor­po­rate spon­sor and one very gen­er­ous pri­vate ci­ti­zen have stepped up to the plate, and we now be­lieve we can cover the fire­works,” said Larry McLeod, a spokesman for the town clerk’s of­fice.

“I think peo­ple are go­ing to be pretty pleased about this,” he added.


Aliah Pen­rod, 6, of Ro­seville, Calif., waves the Amer­i­can flag dur­ing the town’s July Four th pa­rade last year. Ro­seville is just one of the towns that have had to cut back on cel­e­bra­tions ow­ing to the econ­omy.

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