Community spark saves fireworks show


What started out as a lament about the cancellation of this year's fireworks show over Lake Union on a Seattle-area news-talk station has ultimately proven that the grass-roots fund-raising efforts of the people of Greater Seattle could save an annual tradition from being blacked-out.
Last Wednesday, March 31, One Reel, the organizers of the Family 4th at Lake Union, cancelled this year's fireworks show because no single corporation would fund the $500,000 event. The following day, Seattle was left with up-in-the-air plans for the holiday and memories of fireworks past.
However, when KIRO 97.3 FM morning talk-show host Dave Ross bemoaned the loss that following morning, local chef/restaurateur Tom Douglas (a One Reel board member) quickly phoned in and campaigned for the small businesses in the area to make whatever donations they could to save the Fourth. We don't need to hit up the major corporations like Microsoft or Paul Allen, he decried; we, the people, can save it ourselves. And so started a fund-raising effort that raised the entire $500,000 in less than 24 hours.
Yes, Paul Allen's Vulcan Inc. and Nordstrom donated a total of $75,000 and Microsoft and Starbucks pledged a match of $125,000 each to help reach the goal (with Douglas' prodding), but it was the will of the smaller businesses and the citizens that resurrected the Lake Union fireworks show through the Rockets Red Glare pledge-a-thon.
Twenty-one businesses donated amounts ranging from $2,000 to $10,000. And, remarkably, considering the current business climate, 75 small businesses (some that have even yet to open) donated amounts between $1,000 and $2,000.
When donations from individuals were finally accepted, 156 of them came from those donating under $1,000. And not all came from the Greater Seattle area: Pledges came from Fall City, Tumwater, Anacortes, Arlington and Mesa, Wash.
Even the people at One Reel - who were initially incredulous that such a feat could be achieved in the five-day window - marveled at the energy and generosity exhibited by its fireworks-loving audience.
Appropriately, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn proclaimed Friday, April 2, "The Day the People Saved the Fireworks."
This people's movement is a fitting tribute to the can-do spirit that formed this country all those years ago that is still celebrated on the Fourth of July. Let's hope that the spirit continues and is remembered when the holiday approaches.[[In-content Ad]]