Seeking new members, donors
Would it be the Fourth of July without fireworks?
Most people would say 'no' but the committee that organizes the annual display is asking for help to make this year's celebration happen.
"We need help in two ways," said Paul Lewis, director of Parks and Recreation for the city of Dodge City and a leader of the fireworks committee.
"We need new people to volunteer to serve on the committee and we need to find at least one new primary sponsor," he said.
The Dodge City fireworks display, in its current form, was created in the late 1990s.
Lewis and former Dodge City fire chief, Dan Williamson, began discussing the idea of a community celebration for the Fourth of July. Frances McElgun, local Coors distributor, also adopted the fireworks as a pet project.
"At that time, fireworks were not allowed in the city at all and we wanted to plan a celebration that would be safe and manageable," Lewis said.
So, for the past 15 years, fireworks have been held with viewing from Memorial Stadium and various locations around the area.
The annual event is planned by a volunteer committee of a handful of city staff and community people.
The committee meets from time to time as needed beginning in March and meets more often as the event approaches.
"We meet at noon and it only lasts an hour. Lunch is provided and we have a good time. It's not a stuffy group," Lewis said.
Members of the committee are responsible for making decisions about the event, for helping raise funds from the community and for helping with any required set up or clean up at the stadium.
"Mostly we ask people to volunteer to call contacts they know to arrange donations to fund the fireworks," Lewis said.
The cost of the annual display is $25,000, funded partly by public money but mostly by donations from business sponsors and individuals.
"We've done well raising the funds every year until last year, when we lost a primary sponsor," Lewis said.
Uncertainty about drought conditions has also played a factor in fundraising, Lewis said.
For the past two summers, officials have felt that conditions in the city were too dry to allow fireworks in July.
In 2011, the city display was postponed until New Years, and in 2012 until Veterans' Day.
"We always say we have the largest fireworks display between Wichita and Denver," Lewis said, "But I'm not sure everybody understands that it costs us $25,000 to put the show on and if we can't find some additional support we'll have to cut the show back this year."
Lewis and the other members of the committee hope that adding some new members will re-energize the group.
"We need new blood, new energy, new ideas," he said.
Anyone interested in serving on the committee is invited to call Paul Lewis at (620) 225-8160 or Kevin Norton, Dodge City fire chief, at (620) 225-8187.
Business or individuals wishing to contribute to the fireworks fund can call the same numbers.