BOWLING GREEN - For a slice of Americana, for a pop of patriotism, look skyward on the Fourth of July in the Bowling Green community where residents have rallied to preserve fireworks, a popular holiday tradition.
With money scarce, Bowling Green's annual show was called off earlier this year, but not only did a grass-roots campaign pump in more than $14,000 in donations - from the child with 20 pennies to the businesses with $1,000 checks - but residents pulled together, took a history quiz, and scored big time, winning $10,000 in Liberty Mutual's Bring Back the 4th contest.
Bowling Green was one of more than 3,000 communities competing in the online contest to win one of 10 grants, each worth $10,000, and out of medium-sized cities and towns nationwide, the Wood County city was one of three winners, along with Wilmington, Mass., and Montclair, N.J. More than 48,000 Americans took part in the contest.
Residents were shocked last week when Liberty Mutual said Bowling Green had won.
That reflects the power of community, and shows that people can "pull together their resources and make something happen," said Earlene Kilpatrick, executive director of the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce.
In Bowling Green, the annual fireworks show has been organized by the chamber of commerce with the city as the major financial backer, but because of financial woes, the city did not include fireworks funds in its 2010 budget.
With no city funding, the chamber said it couldn't afford to put on the show. When people heard about that, they formed the group and called for donations.
People collected more than $14,000 in a "very short period of time," John Fawcett, municipal administrator, said.
Entering the contest was "simply a continuation" of this effort, he said.
The committee met last week to review finances after the city learned it had won, and another meeting was planned to fine tune details, Mrs. Kilpatrick said.
Setting some funds aside for next year would be prudent, she said, because it's unlikely the city's budget or the local economy will have a dramatic turnaround in the coming months.
But for now, "we do not have to experience a community without fireworks," she said.
The show will begin at dusk on July 4, with the fireworks to be shot off from fields near the Doyt Perry Stadium at Bowling Green State University, the same location where the show has been held for about a dozen years.
Many communities are struggling financially, and some have scrapped plans for July 4 fireworks, including the village of Waterville and Springfield Township.
Others, such as Maumee, have trimmed the amount of city funds earmarked for fireworks shows.
Liberty Mutual, a Boston-based insurance company, also has sponsored the Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular, the nationally broadcast Fourth of July CBS television special.
The village of Waterville's fireworks show was eliminated as part of cost-saving measures approved by council earlier this year, and Springfield Township's effort to raise donations to keep the fireworks show on the calendar fell short.
No fireworks show or other organized public holiday event will be held, township administrator Leslie Kohli said.