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COMMENTARY: Rotary Club appreciates support for fireworks

Fireworks over the Fish Hook River in Park Rapids are a tradition going back as far as most people can remember.

Thousands of people wait for dusk for the display, gathering in parks and lawns along the river or watching from boats, parking lots and their own homes and cabins miles away.

The Park Rapids Rotary Club sponsors the annual fireworks display which has become one of the largest in Minnesota because of support from hundreds of residents and visitors.

Before 2009, local businesses were the primary donors. That year, the Rotary Club laid out a strategy to involve the entire community in supporting the event and it worked. More than 500 people now contribute to the Rotary Fireworks Foundation the club subsequently established so contributions could be tax-deductible. No government funds or support are received.

The majority of funds go to pay the contractor who handles the fireworks display, but there are other expenses involved ﹘ from renting porta-potties to paying for security.

Fundraising begins with a mailing in the spring, and in some years ,members make follow-up phone calls. Some contributions are unsolicited, coming straight from the heart before and after the event. Others are given in memory of people who enjoyed watching the fireworks with friends and neighbors.

This generosity has allowed the club to expand the display and the community to earn a reputation for fireworks that always draw "oohs" and "aahs" from spectators. Often heard are comments that the display is impressive and unexpected given the size of the community. It has been a goal to make Park Rapids a destination on July 4th, an end to a day that starts with the Firecracker Footrace and includes boat parades on many area lakes, family reunions, the giant Chamber-sponsored parade, the Community Band pre-fireworks concert in Heartland Park and the Park Rapids XTREME Bulls and PRCA Rodeo, which has attracted visitors around the holiday for 40 years.

So don't miss a minute of the fun this year. Make some memories and celebrate our nation's birthday, as John Adams exhorted "with Pomp and Parade... Shows, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations."