GH fireworks fizzle

With the lead sponsor in debt to the pyrotechnic company that provides the annual Fourth of July fireworks show in Grand Haven, plans for this year's show are up in the air.
Marie Havenga
May 7, 2013


Members of the local Jaycees club have informed the city that, after many years of sponsorship, the club cannot afford to fire up a sky show this year, according to City Manager Pat McGinnis.

Andy James, owner of Indiana-based Mad Bomber Fireworks Productions, said the Jaycees still owe him $14,000 for last year's $22,000 display.

James, whose company has shot off the local show for the past 20 years, said it is not uncommon for the Jaycees to pay off the prior year's bill several months later.

“They've always been able to raise money and pay us in February, March or April,” he said. “This year, they haven't. It kind of blindsided us. We're just wondering what happened.”

James said he received a letter dated April 9 from the Jaycees' treasurer, Chris Beck, describing the service organization's financial woes. The correspondence included references to the club's low membership and the inability to pay its bill.

The city used to kick in $12,000 for the show, which covered about 90 percent of the fireworks show's cost. Last year the city contributed $10,000, which covers less than half of the $22,000 cost.

Beck, who took over treasurer duties in April, said he is not certain why the full $10,000 the city donated was not forwarded to the fireworks company.

"I'm trying to figure everything out," Beck said about the discrepancy. "If we received the $10,000 (from the city), we need to make sure that gets to the fireworks company. Why that money didn't go right away, I don't know. It may be lost somewhere in the rounding of the math."

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"plans for this year's show are literally up in the air."

That would be figuratively


The July 4th fireworks are nice but they are typically an afterthought (even though they occur before) when compared to Coast Guard Festival. I'm not sure the city needs two fireworks shows each year, especially if the government has to foot the bill.


An elder fireman friend of mine talks about the fireworks of yesteryear. He would volunteer along with others to staff the show and light fuses. Area business would donate free pizza's, burgers, fries, pop and sub sandwiches for free to fireman who handled the show. Those days are gone - he misses them. No one gives anything anymore so he quit volunteering. Its no fun anymore - he says. So why can't we bring those days back?


I don't know... There was plenty of pizza to go around up on Dewey Hill last year, but I am not sure if it was donated or purchased by someone else up there.

Hopefully funding comes from somewhere for the show. Even though it is not nearly as impressive as the show Pyrotecnico puts on for Coast Guard Festival, it still draws a lot of people in. There will be a LOT of upset people if there is no 4th show.

By the way, if you ever wondered what the 4th show looks like from Dewey Hill, here is the last couple minutes of last years show that I shot:


An afterthought? I disagree! The July 4th show is a highlight of Independence Day!
Tradition for the Celebration of the Freedom we enjoy is never an 'afterthought'.
The show is always spectacular!



I agree with you - Celebration of Freedom is never an afterthought. Sorry if my remark seemed to suggest that. My point is simply that the 4th of July fireworks (which by the way are not the only way one can celebration freedom) are inferior to the Coast Guard fireworks.

Michael J Rutherford

When growing up in the 60’s there were large barrels with signs for Donations - they were available throughout the downtown area that people could drop money in that would help pay for the fireworks. Granted this might not be as possible today, however working on ideas like that would allow user friendly electronic payments to be made by smart-phones. For example a person could use a QR Code to make a donation and those signs could be in all the merchants and area sidewalks. Why would we put all our eggs in one basket to be responsible to raise funds for this event? Spread out the payment to all organizations. A leader making calls should be able to resolve this in a matter of a few weeks. What’s the problem?


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