Hosts of the Falmouth Fourth of July fireworks celebration said yesterday morning that the annual event is canceled indefinitely unless the public provides funds.
“There is a very, very, very strong possibility that we will have to cancel the Fourth of July Fireworks this year,” said Arthur R. Ratsy, a longtime member of the Falmouth Fireworks Committee. “We just aren’t getting enough support from the people of Falmouth.”
The committee met Wednesday night to discuss the recent financial difficulties and decided that unless at least $5,000 is provided in the next week, this year’s event will be canceled, Mr. Ratsy said. Future events will be in question as well.
Every year, the committee starts out with funds left over from the previous year’s display that are put toward a down payment for the following year. Three years ago the committee had $25,000 left over, two years ago that number dropped to approximately $10,000. There is only $1,400 for this year’s event, Mr. Ratsy said. The committee is short more than $48,000.
“The people of Falmouth think that we are getting money from the town,” he said. “We do not. Every dollar raised comes from ground zero. All of our money has to come from the public and we’re not getting the support that we need.”
“It really is terrible,” Mr. Ratsy said.
“It’s getting tougher and tougher to raise money,” said Joseph (Dutch) Drolette Jr., chairman of the fireworks committee. “We’re not getting any money.”
The price for the event, Mr. Ratsy said, is over $50,000. That money covers everything from Atlas PyroVision’s expertise, the company that has produced the annual show, to the barge going from New Bedford to Falmouth Heights, to manning the barge, to the sound system and entertainment at the Falmouth Heights ballfield.
Members of the committee said they discussed setting up a fundraiser but decided against it. “There are so many fundraisers going on in town and we have not been able to come up with a good idea,” Mr. Ratsy said. Mr. Drolette said the committee has been meeting all year to discuss raising funds.
In the past, the committee has raised $15,000 to $20,000 at an annual benefit the weekend before Fourth of July at grocery stores across town. Members would resume that benefit if the initial $5,000 is donated. Funds were raised through the selling of T-shirts and donations.
Mr. Ratsy said that he hopes someone from the business community comes forward with a pledge for this year’s event. “We know that it brings business to town,” he said, especially for restaurants and hotels.
Travel + Leisure Magazine named the Falmouth fireworks as one of the 10 best displays in the country.
Mr. Ratsy said that an estimated 30,000 to 40,000 watch the display from Falmouth Heights to Menauhant Beach. “If we get a couple of bucks from everyone watching, we would make it,” he said.
Mr. Drolette and Mr. Ratsy both offered their phone numbers for pledges and fundraising ideas. Mr. Drolette can be reached at 508-566-5552; Mr. Ratsy at 508-776-1278.
Mr. Ratsy said that it would be sad to see the event go. He said that he has many stories of strangers sharing their appreciation of the event with him. He recalled once when a man stopped him outside a bank and said that his family started a tradition of walking to the fireworks show together. “That kept the family together on one of the most important days in the country,” the man told him. “I remember that distinctly. The fireworks are a family affair,” Mr. Ratsy said.
Last year’s show, Mr. Ratsy said, could be a reason for fewer donations this year. Dense fog made the view of the fireworks difficult for the public. Initially, viewers blasted the committee for their decision to go ahead with the show despite weather conditions. However, Mr. Ratsy said, after the initial reaction, much of the public apologized for the outcry and thanked the committee for their efforts. Committee members last year estimated that delaying the event would have cost as much as $40,000.
Thirty-four years ago, the first show put on cost approximately $8,000, Mr. Ratsy said.