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Wanted: Fireworks funds

Alex Doty • Jul 21, 2015 at 12:38 PM

That will only happen if community donations come together in time for the July 4 spectacular.

A void was left after the local Jaycees Club withdrew its support of the fireworks show, citing financial woes.

The Grand Haven Community Foundation and the City of Grand Haven have teamed up to work to make the show go on.

“I think the general public can rest assured knowing there will be a really good fireworks show on July 4 in Grand Haven,” City Manager Pat McGinnis said.

Holly Johnson, president of the Community Foundation, said that after holding several strategic meetings, they agreed to help put on this year’s show through a challenge grant.

“This is a one-time deal from the Community Foundation,” Johnson said. “We already have several gifts that have been made.”

The city will contribute $10,000 for the show out of its general fund, and the Marian A. and Ruth K. Sherwood Family Fund and the Greatest Needs Fund of the Community Foundation will match up to $6,000 of whatever is raised by the community.


“This is a huge advantage when it comes to fundraising,” McGinnis said. “They get to have the biggest bang for their buck.”

Johnson said people may contribute to the show by submitting funds to the foundation, designating their funds for the July 4 fireworks.

McGinnis emphasized that the city isn’t in the business of putting on fireworks displays, and they are just picking up things in the Jaycees’ wake so there is a fireworks show in 2013.  He said he hoped some other community group could take on the fireworks show in future years, with continued city support.

The Jaycees’ members decided in February to no longer organize the fireworks show. At the same time, they sent a letter to the fireworks vendor saying that they don’t have the funds to pay for last year’s display. At that time, the Jaycees still owed $14,000 of the $22,000 display.

The city contracted with the Jaycees last year to produce a show, and gave the club a $10,000 check and allowed them to rent out municipal boat slips for the event. That raised another $3,030.

Andy James, owner of Indiana-based Mad Bomber Fireworks Productions, said the community organization only paid $8,000 toward the fireworks show.

But the Jaycees’ accounting is not a city matter, McGinnis said, explaining that the city paid an entity to create a spectacular fireworks show, and they did that. How that entity allocates its money is not the city’s concern, although he did note that he has “zero evidence” that any city money was misspent.

“We have no reason to believe we are not getting what we are paying for,” he said.

To read more of this story, see Saturday’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.

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