The Show Will Go On!

Fireworks almost didn’t explode over Annapolis last year.    
    With budget constraints and a lack of donations, the show looked doomed.
    With the clock close to expiring, the city and local business came through with the cash to fund the show.
    “I credit the city for keeping up with their participation,” said Chris Weir, the man in charge of July 4th Annapolis 2011. “It’s such a signature piece with a one-of-a kind background.”
    This year, it was déjà vu all over again.
    Since the 1990s, the not-for-profit July 4th Annapolis group has been privately raising funds for the downtown fireworks.
    The city supplies July 4th Annapolis with some money, but for the show to go on, businesses and citizens must also ante up. For the past few years, those purses have been tight.
    “The bulk of it is done through smiling and dialing,” said Weir.
    “A couple trucks drove by with their numbers on them, and I called them from the road,” said Weir, a first-time fundraiser.
    A month out, 15 donors are backing the show. Businesses typically donate between $2,500 and $3,000; citizens $25 to $50, Weir said.
    There will be a show this year, he promises, and, as usual, it will last for about 20 minutes.
    “What happens in that length of time is what varies,” Weir said.
    Fireworks can cost from $15,000 to $40,000. Fireworks contractors estimate how much the show will cost and what shells will be launched for the length of the show.
    “You can have a 10-minute show for $15,000,” Weir said.
    But for less money, you get fewer big shots.
    One of the biggest costs to July 4th Annapolis is the barge that’s the platform for the shooting.
    Before September 11, fireworks were launched from the seawall at the Naval Academy. After the terrorist attacks, the academy superintendent banned explosives on campus. With that decision, costs rose.
    “It’d be nice if some of the larger businesses in town took a leadership role,” said Weir, noting a lack of support from businesses that benefit most from the large crowd. Downtown merchants, hotels and banks are no-shows in contributing.
    Invest in July 4th Annapolis by emailing [email protected]. Donations of any amount are welcome all the way until July 3. Donations thereafter will be put toward next year’s display — so no fireworks over Annapolis on Independence Day will be a threat of the past.