Fireworks committee awaits final reckoning

Fund-raisers hope for last-minute donations


Leaders of this year's fund-raising campaign for the Waterville Independence Day fireworks show are learning that the second time can be harder than the first.

“You do it the first year, and everybody’s enthusiastic,” said Charles Larkins, who led the Waterville fireworks committee last year and is an organizer this year. “The second time around, the bloom is off the rose.”

As of late last week, the committee was $7,000 shy of its $20,000 goal to put on the Red, White, and Boom show, even though it got a $4,000 head start with money carried over from 2012.

But Mr. Larkins is optimistic that, like a fireworks show's grand finale, they'll get a big surge of support Friday during the Last Blast of a series of fund-raiser nights at restaurants, businesses, and night spots.

The committee also has been visiting potential donors and sponsors and has sent out fund-raising letters, he said.

The Last Blast will begin at 7 p.m. at Mad Anthony’s, 21 N. Third St.; karaoke will start at 9:30 p.m. and a percentage of sales will be donated to the cause, as well as the proceeds of a 50/50 raffle.

Waterville once staged its Fourth of July fireworks using public funds, but it stopped in 2010 because of a tight budget.

After a second dark year in 2011, volunteers organized the first fund-raising drive last year and ended up with enough money not only for pyrotechnics, but also for a community festival beforehand of live music, carnival games, and a comedy act.

Mr. Larkins said it appeared unlikely such a festival could be staged this year, but if enough last-minute money came in, it was still possible.

In any case, he said, Friday's party at Mad Anthony's will be a time for the fireworks committee to relax after more than three months of canvassing.

A fireworks committee flyer states that if the $20,000 goal is not be reached by Saturday, the collected money would be used for a show in 2014.

An occasional response to the fund-raising effort, Mr. Larkins said, is that “the city should be doing that,” but the volunteers aren't waiting for flush budget times’ return.

“Maybe we’ll get back to a time where the city is doing it again,” he said, “but the city has the responsibility to take care of the community, and make sure the community is safe.”