The Arkansas City Area Chamber of Commerce and the Arkansas City Convention and Visitors Bureau have stepped up to attempt to raise funds for this year’s Fourth of July fireworks show.

Citizens expressed frustration Monday after learning that the local Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) chapter would not provide a fireworks display for the city this year.

But Chamber Director Kammy Downs and CVB Director Pam Crain began fundraising efforts early Tuesday morning.

File photo by KAYLEIGH LAWSON

“There have to be fireworks,” Downs said. “It’s a community, family thing. I invite family and friends to sit out and watch.”

“You hear everybody in the community ooh-ing and ah-ing together. It’s about more than fireworks — it’s about remembering all of the people who helped to make this nation great,” she added.

As of Tuesday afternoon, there were pledges for approximately $10,000 of the $12,000 that is needed to put on a show.

City Manager Nick Hernandez also was working to make sure the fireworks display could be a reality in 2017.

“I have made two calls to fireworks show providers, one of which I was able to get hold of,” he said.

“He is doing some checked around to get prices and length of show. Someone else I called stated that it costs around $750 to $1,000 a minute for a really good show.”

“The City (of Arkansas City) has the money, but is it the best use for the money? If the (City) Commission thinks it is, then we can help more,” Hernandez added.

He has been working to find a professional outfit to shoot off the fireworks.

“I won’t know for sure until tomorrow morning,” he said. “But it’s looking promising.”

Anyone who wishes to donate to the effort can contact the chamber or CVB at (620) 442-0230.

City issues statement

In a statement issued Tuesday afternoon, the city said it supported Downs’ and Crain’s fundraising efforts, and would do what it could to make the show happen in 2017.

“We commend both entities for showing leadership in this regard and encourage their efforts,” the statement reads.

“We similarly commend the community members who already have stepped up to pledge funding for this initiative, especially on such short notice. Based on this overwhelming show of community support, the City of Arkansas City has taken steps necessary to ensure that a fireworks show can take place on July 4.”

The city estimates the show will be 15 to 20 minutes long and said KSOK Radio will provide music for it, as in years past. The city also will provide its budgeted $1,000 contribution to the event.

“Despite the generosity and enthusiasm shown so far by the community, the funding target necessary to make this event happen has not yet been attained,” the city cautioned, again directing interested donors to Downs and Crain.

The city also warned that nothing is guaranteed past this year, unless donations to support the event continue.

“These arrangements are only sufficient to provide a fireworks show for 2017,” the statement concludes. “To ensure this community event can continue in years to come, continued financial support from the community will be necessary.”

FOP steps down

Arkansas City Police Department Detective Lt. Jim Holloway serves as the current president of the FOP.

“We usually send out a request for donations, but this year, we didn’t send them out,” he said.

In the last several years, Holloway said, donations have tapered off steadily.

At one point, there were enough funds to handle a $25,000 show. However, last year, there was only $10,000 and part of the money came from FOP dues.

The city annually sets aside $1,000 in its budget to help with the fireworks show, but there were not enough other donations this year to move forward with a show, prior to this week.

“We asked a couple of organizations in town if they were willing to take it over, but they were not able to,” Holloway said.

Community input

“I don’t blame the FOP for not putting on a show if they can’t pay for it,” said Phillip Harader. “I blame myself and everyone in Arkansas City that watches the show every year for not donating at least a dollar or five.”

“Just a thought, how many people that are upset about the fireworks have actually donated to the FOP?” asked Doug Darst.

Some citizens suggested starting a GoFundMe page, but the company takes 10 percent of the money collected.

Others suggested putting out cans for donations at events such as the Arkansas City Farm and Art Market.

“The city donated $1,000 a year. The money is still available … for fireworks. This was not a city decision,” Hernandez said. “I am open to any community-wide effort.”

He also warned against potential scams.

“Have a group such as a bank or Legacy Foundation be the place of donation only. Do not accept cash, have them deliver to the bank where the account is set up and have at least two responsible individuals in charge of the account,” Hernandez suggested.

There are regulations that prevent average citizens from being able to set off this size of fireworks.

In order for there to be appropriate event insurance, professionals have to handle the show, should the money be raised in time.