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Published: Thursday, 3/11/2010

July 4th festivities in Toledo set to go despite budget cuts

The annual downtown Toledo Fourth of July fireworks and accompanying three-day celebration will go off this year, despite recent cuts to Toledo police and fire overtime budgets for the event.

The Blade's Red, White, and Kaboom July 4 weekend is set to be bigger, louder, and better attended than ever this year, kicking off July 2 and culminating two nights later with a thundering display of fireworks over the Maumee River, said Joseph H. Zerbey IV, president and general manager of The Blade.

"We are moving full-steam ahead, and we have a wonderful weekend planned for the people of northwest Ohio and Toledo," Mr. Zerbey said.

Major event sponsors include Taylor Auto Group, Mercy Health Partners, and Humana Inc.

This third annual Red, White, and Kaboom will again be held in downtown's Promenade Park. New and additional entertainment and festivities such as the "Venetian Boat Parade" could draw record attendance, well beyond the more than 100,000 people who came last year, Mr. Zerbey said.

In addition, the July 4 fireworks show by Zambelli Fireworks Internationale is to be the biggest Fourth of July fireworks display in Ohio this year.

Speculation swirled about the fate of Red, White, and Kaboom after Mayor Mike Bell last month announced plans that involved cutting $52,000 in police and fire overtime for patrolling the event. Since then, The Blade has made arrangements to use Lucas County Sheriff's Auxiliary deputies for the event's public safety. Mr. Zerbey said The Blade is making a $10,000 donation to the sheriff's auxiliary for these services.

Blade representatives may still use some city police services for the event if police Chief Mike Navarre considers it necessary. The cost of those services would be paid to the city using proceeds from the event's gate receipts.

"Because of the way The Blade has structured the event, it will cost the city nothing," said Mr. Zerbey, noting that the event's total budget is in excess of $150,000.

A spokesman for Mayor Bell said he is excited the three-day event can continue.

Admission each day is $3 or a canned goods donation. The canned goods will be distributed to local food banks. More than 4,000 canned goods were collected last year.

Along with fireworks, other highlights for the weekend include the Battle of the Bands contest, the Taste Toledo culinary festival, a performance by Eagles tribute band Hotel California, a Toledo Symphony Pops Concert, and a U.S. Army Reserve unit concert.



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