One of South Whidbey’s traditions for the past couple of decades has been the annual funding problem that threatens Celebrate America, our Third of July fireworks show that draws thousands of viewers to Freeland Park and roads and homes surrounding Holmes Harbor.
Since Matt Chambers, pastor of the South Whidbey Assembly, came up with the idea, he has spearheaded the annual fundraising effort, hitting up everyone from our largest businesses to our smallest families. After all, isn’t a day of entertainment and night of spectacular fireworks worth five bucks for the entire family?
Of course it is, but the last couple of years have been tougher than usual to raise funds. Large contributors have been cutting back and smaller contributors aren’t surfacing like they once did.
It’s the economy, stupid. Washington, D.C., may say it’s improving after a five-year stupor, but local businesses are still struggling, workers are worried about their jobs and artists and craftspeople are having trouble finding more buyers.
All this may be true, but it’s not worth throwing away Celebrate America. Having our own fireworks show is now part of the fabric of South Whidbey society, right up there with the Maxwelton 4th of July Parade, Choochokam and Island County Fair. It simply wouldn’t be summer without it.
Through the years, Celebrate America has generated lifelong memories. “Kids” now in their 30s remember past shows. As with most events, it’s most memorable when things go bad. Fireworks have been shot off in driving rain, blowing wind and from a barge bouncing on rough seas. As a result, the direction has not always been straight up. The early years saw some exciting times. The show has become more expert with practice, however, and by now one can be assured of safe, sane and beautiful fireworks bursting over Holmes Harbor as hundreds of young faces are turned up in awe.
This space is as a rule not used for fundraising calls. After all, there are dozens of good causes on South Whidbey, all needing more money. But Celebrate America is one of those special events that brings the entire community together. We certainly don’t want to lose it. If you can help, call 321-221-166 or visit www.swag-online.org.