By SARAH LAKE
The Daily Times of Salisbury
SALISBURY, Md. (AP) — After seven years of darkness, Salisbury’s night sky will again see fireworks on July 4.
Former City Council member Mike Dunn is spearheading the volunteer-driven effort to raise funds for and organize a community Fourth of July celebration that he’s titled “Red, White and Boom.”
“(Salisbury) families have been getting into their cars and going to other cities,” Dunn said. “We need fireworks in the city to celebrate who we are. Salisbury is a council of traditions, and fireworks was one of them.”
Dunn has already signed the contract for a $20,000 fireworks show and has put half of that amount down, thanks to an unnamed person who donated $10,000. He has raised an additional $3,000. His goal is to raise a total of $40,000 to cover this year’s and next year’s displays.
Dunn is working to develop a 501(c)(3) called “Salisbury Traditions” that will raise money for fireworks and the Winter Wonderland of Lights in the City Park.
Part of the reason fireworks ceased in Salisbury is urban sprawl over the rural landscape — the city was running out of empty fields to launch from. But Dunn has secured what he calls the perfect location: Salisbury University’s East Campus.
The fireworks will be shot off from the old Shoreland Freezers lot on Bateman Street. Residents can watch the show from SU’s athletic fields. The site, Dunn said, has already been approved by fire officials.
SU President Janet Dudley-Eshbach said the university is excited to have the opportunity to host the return of fireworks to the city.
“As an integral part of this community, we applaud the enthusiasm and energy being put forth to rejuvenate old traditions and help start new ones,” Dudley-Eshbach said in a statement. “We hope this patriotic celebration is one that will have a positive impact.”
Prior to the display, residents will be able to eat and shop on “Americana Avenue,” or Wayne Street, where food vendors, local nonprofits and entertainment will set up. Wayne Street will be closed to traffic for the duration of the event.
Dunn is looking for volunteers to serve on a committee. He’s also seeking volunteers to help out at the event. City and university employees will be on hand to help, too.
Bill Gordy, former deputy chief of volunteers for the Salisbury Fire Department, is serving as the logistics chairperson. Gordy said he will utilize his public safety experience to coordinate all operational planning for the event.
“It’s something I’ve been thinking about for years …Salisbury not having fireworks. It’s a tradition where we have the opportunity to celebrate our independence,” Gordy said. “I think this is a good fit for something that will be of value to the community.”
The Jaycees organized Salisbury’s fireworks for 38 years. In June 2005, the group announced that due to a lack of funding and space, they could no longer host the event.
“We have been unsuccessful due to the growth of the Salisbury area,” said event chairman Duane Larmore at the time. “The Jaycees have struggled to secure both a location and financial support from the community.”
Larmore also said the Jaycees did not want to launch fireworks from a small area and risk damaging property.
“Truthfully, there is no safe area to fire right now without running the risk of something being damaged,” he said.
Information from: The Daily Times of Salisbury, Md., http://www.delmarvanow.com/
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)