- Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 March 2009 16:55
- Published on Wednesday, 18 March 2009 16:55
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For 54 years there have been fireworks at the Potomac River Festival; a long-standing Colonial Beach tradition and an aspect of community pride for many. But maybe not in year 55.
The Festival is an event which is planned and put on by the Chamber of Commerce and its many volunteers each year. Almost as soon as one ends, the next one is in the works. This year will mark the 55th Anniversary of the Potomac River Festival, and this year, fireworks may become a thing of the past.
Because, although in prior years the Town has helped with the cost of fireworks for this event, this year, they are saying no.
A recent note sent to Chamber members says, “The financial problems of today that are being felt internationally, have affected the Town of Colonial Beach as well. The budget is tight and under these conditions the Town is unable to fund the fireworks this year.
"Therefore, the Potomac River Festival Chairperson Byran Stepp, all of the volunteers and the Chamber are asking for your help.”
An October 21, 2008 letter from then Acting Town Manager Val Foulds may have given the Chamber of Commerce a little heads up as it said, “At this time the town is not prepared to commit any funding toward radio advertisements or the fireworks display for the Potomac River Festival in June 2009.”
Recently the Town reached its decision and made it official. Citing financial reasons, they have said they will not fund fireworks for the Festival, but they will fund for Fourth of July 2009. However, some people are wondering why they said no, because according to the Town’s budget, they had $10,000 in the fireworks account; money left over from last year’s 4th of July. President of the Chamber of Commerce, Carey Geddes says that the Town Manager has the authority to veto line items in the budget and that is what has been done.
The Chamber has now received its contract for Festival Fireworks and the amount on the table is $8,800, with a deposit of $2,200 due by April 30. Geddes says that the Chamber is really going to try and raise the money to save this town tradition.
“We are going to host a big event on Town Hill on the Fourth of July to try and attract the kind of people, the families, that we want visiting our Town. There will be something for everyone to do.”
A member of the community, who wishes to remain anonymous, has made the first donation to the Chamber’s “Save the Festival Fireworks” account in the generous amount of $1,000. But Geddes says the Chamber still needs the help of the community and encourages people to reach out to Jimmy Stanley, a Chamber volunteer, heading up the effort to save the fireworks display. Jimmy Stanley can be reached at the Colonial Beach Chamber at 224-8145. Checks should be made out to the Colonial Beach Chamber of Commerce and may be mailed to P.O. Box 475, Colonial Beach, Virginia 22443.