Independence Day Organizers Calling It Quits

The Crowd Watches the Fireworks
Charlottevillians watch a red firework explode overhead in McIntire Park on July 4, 2007.

Seven years ago the organization who had long run the annual Independence Day celebration abruptly threw in the towel. Ray Cadell rounded up a bunch of local business owners and put together the big annual celebration with only a few weeks’ notice. The then-aptly-named Save the Fireworks Committee has been running the show every year since, despite their hope that they’d only have to do it that one year. Committee chairman Dave Phillips says that this July’s scaled-back event will be their last, Bryan McKenzie writes in the Daily Progress this afternoon. They cite a lousy economy, which makes it tough to raise money, but it also makes it tough to justify spending that money on frivolity when there are so many more needs that are more urgent.

A lot of people think of a July 4 celebration as something that “they” do—the state, the city, the county, somebody. But “they” is actually us. It’s a thankless, difficult, money-losing task. Here’s hoping a combination of local grant-making organizations and a local community organization can start planning now to put together a 2010 event and lay the groundwork for a sustainable event that will take place annually for decades to come.

06/04 Update: In an updated article today, McKenzie points out that the Charlottesville Downtown Foundation ran the event in 2003, and that it was the Jaycees that had run the event for so many years.

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