City Council takes up talks about who will pay for the show, how to tie it into other summer events

FILE PHOTO COURTESY OF THE CITY OF ST. HELENS - The high cost of a fireworks display on the Fourth of July has driven off many organizers, leaving the St. Helens City Council questioning the best way to move the event forward. Planning discussions have already begun for this year's show. The St. Helens City Council has begun preliminary discussions about planning for Fourth of July festivities and a fireworks display, including looking at contracts for fireworks vendors and who will pay for those costs.

One possibility discussed is an agreement with Aurora-based fireworks supplier, Western Fireworks, to provide the display at a cost of $12,000 per year. The agreement would be renewable for three years.

But what agency, organization or individual would pay for the displays is less clear, and became the topic of discussion during a St. Helens City Council meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 4.

The responsibility of hosting the expensive, but highly sought-after display has been a point of contention for several years. In the past, nonprofit organizations like the St. Helens Community Foundation and the St. Helens Economic Development Corp. have stepped up, usually for one summer

at a time, but the high cost and detailed management of hosting the fireworks display has discouraged such organizations from taking on the


Last summer, city-contracted event planner Tina Curry helped raise funds through sponsorship efforts when the city pledged no money toward the expense. In years prior, the city has helped pay for the fireworks.

In the same discussion, event planners for the city's annual 13 Nights on the River concert series are considering revamping the series to recoup event expenses and better leverage resources. One suggestion involves hosting a three- to four-night concert series just prior to the Fourth of July to help draw crowds. Another discussed possibility

would be to break away from the weekly concert format.

With the Fourth of July falling on a Tuesday, uncertainty about whether to host fireworks on Monday night to give folks Tuesday to travel, or host the fireworks on July 4 regardless of the day of the week, was a major point of the discussion.

The City Council agreed to table approval of the contract with Western Fireworks until its next meeting in mid-January to allow time to consider its options.

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