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FD fireworks show fizzles for lack of funds

$13,000 needed could not be raised

June 28, 2013
By BILL SHEA, , Messenger News

Fort Dodge residents hoping to celebrate the birth of their country with the lights and sounds of a big fireworks display will have to go elsewhere on Thursday.

There will not be a fireworks show in the city on Independence Day this year because the $13,000 to $14,000 needed to pay for it could not be raised, according to Joe Gilbert, the Fort Dodge businessman who has led the effort to collect the money since 2006.

''I feel bad, worse than bad, because I failed to do what I said I was going to do and there isn't a lot of support financially for the event at all,'' Gilbert said.

''I still want to head a committee that would raise funds for this and I would love to have more people involved,'' he added.

Mayor Matt Bemrich said he has asked the leaders of the Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance to begin planning an effort to raise the money for a fireworks show next year.

''Joe did most of that himself,'' Bemrich said. ''That's a lot of work for one person.''

Fact Box

Fireworks safety urged


People wanting to mark Independence Day with some fireworks at home should use only those types that are legal and take safety precautions, according to firefighters.

''We want people to have fun, but have a safe Fourth of July,'' said Fort Dodge Fire Chief Kent Hulett.

He said sparklers, caps and toy snakes, which are black pellets that turn into curving strands when lighted, are the only kinds of legal fireworks in Iowa. They should be used on driveways or sidewalks to reduce the chance of setting grass or other vegetation on fire.

''Be very careful allowing children around fireworks,'' Hulett said. ''It should always be done under adult supervision. A sparkler can burn at 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit and if a child touches that, they're going to the hospital with a serious burn.''

He added, ''Fireworks and alcohol are usually not a good combination."

The fine for the sale or use of illegal fireworks in Fort Dodge can be up to $250, according to the fire chief.

The responsibility for providing a fireworks show has been held by a handful of groups over the past 15 years. The Fort Dodge Area Chamber of Commerce, the Fort Dodge Dragoons and the 133rd Test Squadron of the Iowa Air National Guard have all handled the fundraising at different times.

Gilbert said he got involved after Chamber of Commerce leaders sought help.

He said raising the needed money became harder each year because of the lingering effects of the recession. He added that the once-healthy balance in the fireworks account dwindled.

He said he realized in May that he would not be able to raise enough money to pay for a fireworks show this year.

Gilbert said he announced that fact during a meet and greet session for downtown business owners earlier this summer.

The fireworks show presented by the Marian Home & Village, 2400 Sixth Ave. N., was the only one in Fort Dodge for this year's Independence Day.



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