Donations declining for Chillicothe's annual fireworks show

Marianne Gillespie
The Chillicothe riverfront explodes into bright lights and smoke as residents watch the Fourth of July fireworks.

The Chillicothe 4th of July Committee banks on, literally, that residents do not want to go somewhere else each year to see fireworks on the Fourth of July.

This year, however, the fund is running about $2,000 short of where it should be. If that money and continued support cannot be found, it could mean the end of Chillicothe fireworks after this next year, Committee president Steve Maurer said.

The reasons are numerous, Maurer said, from businesses hurting, longtime donors dying and a lack of funds from those who watched the show this year.

Additionally, local residents or visitors may incorrectly think that the city foots the bill, although it does give a donation through the Chillicothe Marketing & Tourism Commission.

“We’re raising the money year round and we’re not getting it,” Maurer said of this year.

The show normally is about 45 minutes in length, but was cut back to 35 minutes to compromise with the mayor’s request to shorten the show, Maurer said.

“Last year was probably the best show we’ve had ... The only way we can keep doing it is if people support us,” Maurer said.

The show was worth about $24,000, which included shots that had not fired the previous year. The committee normally spends about $20,000 annually.

“Everywhere in Chillicothe, the parking lots were full,” Maurer said.

Without volunteers needed that night, however, those in the parking lots did not see any donation buckets like in previous years.

Maurer said if those in attendance merely gave $1 each, the show would be funded.

Some residents may remember a year when Chillicothe did not have a fireworks show and had to travel elsewhere — nearby Peoria or Henry — which was the birth of the current committee.

In a letter to the editor, Maurer explains the situation and asks for the community’s support.

Those who did not give a donation this year, for whatever reason, are asked to drop one by South Side Bank.

Maurer also said the committee is looking for volunteers, possibly even a youth group, to help with collecting donations at the parking lots at next year’s show.

“We want to continue the event we’re having, but we have to have help,” Maurer said.