No fireworks show in Sunnyside this 4th of July

For the first time in more than a decade the sky will be quiet over Sunnyside this July 4, as it appears the city will not have an aerial fireworks display.

For the past 15 years or so the Sunnyside Lions Club has headed up the fireworks program, which costs about $5,000 each year.

The Sunnyside City Council has in the past provided money from the city's general fund to help cover the fireworks expenses.

But with a tight budget this year the funds weren't set aside in the city's budget.

Fireworks money was not only unavailable from the city's general fund, but the city's hotel/motel tax fund couldn't help either.

City Councilwoman Theresa Hancock sits on the committee that oversees spending the hotel/tax money. She said the state attorney general's office frowns on giving money for fireworks from the fund because the money is to be used for advertising events that put "heads in beds."

Carol Stone is the Lions Club's president-elect and a member of the Sunnyside City Council. "The Fourth of July is something I'm passionate about," Stone said.

But without city funds this year and the struggling economy, she said the burden to put on the fireworks show was just too great for the Lions Club and its few members.

Melba Fujiura of Sunnyside is a district governor for the Lions Club. She says the club on a couple of occasions was going to be on the city council agenda to make a fireworks presentation.

But without any city money forthcoming, Fujiura said the decision was made to drop the item from the agenda.

"Personally I don't think it's appropriate to spend the money on fireworks, there's bigger issues the city needs to spend it on," said Fujiura.

Like Stone, she says the recession has hit local pocketbooks that normally gave to the fireworks cause.

"We're not getting the donations from the community," Fujiura said.

She says there's only a couple hundred dollars in the fireworks account, far short of the $5,000 needed.

Fujiura and Stone admit the Lions Club didn't get the word out about the dire shortfall in time to save this year's fireworks show.

"Sometimes things don't work out," said Stone. She said the Lions Club plans to re-group and focus anew on the fireworks program for 2010.

Stone said she hopes other civic groups can help out next year in raising funds for the fireworks.

The Lions Club has established a "Sunnyside Fireworks Fund" at Banner Bank to receive donations for a fireworks show.

For more information or to help in raising fireworks funds, call Fujiura at 839-2574 or Stone at 837-6340.

Stone noted that all funds raised will be designated for future Fourth of July firework displays.

Because its deadline has passed to pay for a show this July 4, the 2009 Lions Club-sponsored fireworks display is a definite no-show, Stone said, no matter how much money the club raises in the next few days.

"If we had the money today it still wouldn't happen," she said.


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