SALISBURY — Red, White and Boom organizers in Salisbury are requesting that the City Council return to a former practice of financially supporting Independence Day fireworks in the city.
The event is looking for a $10,000 donation and whether the city supplies the full amount, several council members want to see some kind of concession made.
At the very least, Council President Jake Day feels that “a nominal amount” of money needs to come from the city to help fund the fireworks.
“I think it’s an opportunity to fix what’s pretty embarrassing, that we don’t support our own fireworks in the city of Salisbury,” he said.
The fireworks show has become popular in the city despite being in its infancy.
“This is the third year of Red, White and Boom. We’ve had a really successful first couple of years,” said organizer Mike Dunn. “I’ve been out there raising money and we’re trying to put together in year three a more sustainable way moving forward for Red, White and Boom. It involves the city of Salisbury. The city has been wonderful the first couple of years providing all sorts of police and fire and public works help.”
But now the event could really benefit from some financial assistance, Dunn said. The goal is to set up an endowment so that the event can grow to be self-sustaining in the long run. Dunn asked the council Monday for a donation of $10,000, half of the $20,000 total cost to put on the show. It wouldn’t be setting any kind of precedent as the council has contributed money to different fireworks events in the past.
“This is, in a sense, a renewed effort to get the city back involved in making it happen,” said Dunn.
As the goal is to make the event sustainable, Councilwoman Shanie Shields asked Dunn if the council would be expected to make the $10,000 donation every year.
“I would love for the city to make a donation every year, but to answer your question, this is a one-time thing,” Dunn said.
While the city hasn’t contributed financially to the fireworks in the past few years, it has provided a number of services. Putting a price tag on those services would give the city an idea of how much it has indirectly donated to the Independence Day celebration.
“I want to know … how many police and fire vehicles were involved in this over the past years?” asked Councilmember Tim Spies. “How many man hours from each department and out of those man hours, how many were overtime?”
One reason to support the fireworks further is because of how big an economic driver they can be, according to Shields.
“I agree that Salisbury should participate in the fireworks. I’ve supported it before,” she said. “I also look at how we have hundreds of people, thousands of people, coming into our communities that do not live in Salisbury.”
Spies suggested that the all of the businesses who benefit from that surge in traffic “chip in a little bit” toward the fireworks. They already do, according to Dunn.
“The community has responded in an enormous way and now it’s just an opportunity for the city to do the same,” he told Spies, adding that he has personally collected $46,000 from various partners in the city to fund the fireworks for the last two years.
The Salisbury Chamber of Commerce has partnered with the event as well as numerous businesses and individuals throughout the city. The fireworks are launched over the Salisbury University Athletic Complex and begin at dark.
The council agreed to forward the request on to the next legislative agenda for March 17 where it will vote on whether to make a contribution.