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Flagging funds threaten Kingston fireworks

“Oooh, Aaah, Uh Oh”

Thousands may miss the “rockets’ red glare” this year if fundraising for Kingston’s Fourth of July Fireworks fails.

The 30-minute pyrotechnic display, procured from longtime supplier Western Display Fireworks, costs community donors $11,000. With Independence Day less than a month away, only $1,000 has been raised.

That low figure has organizers worried.

“It isn't looking very good, if we don't get some money in to pay for them,” says Sheri Bryan, a north Kitsap resident – and Herald marketing rep – who is assisting in fundraising efforts.

Those efforts are championed for the third year by Jim Raymond, manager of Kingston’s Thriftway store, who says this year’s Fireworks Fund got off to a late start.

“We’re way behind this year because of the store remodel,” he said, referring to Thriftway’s modernization project that has been underway since early April. While the improvements have been a hit with customers, according to Raymond, they have slowed fireworks fundraising.

Thriftway is a major contributor to the Fireworks Fund. In years past, the store raised money through fundraising barbecues and concerts held in its parking lot. This year, because of remodeling, the store’s property has been unavailable.

With Thriftway on the bench this year, fund organizers hope other businesses will step up to the plate. Historically, about 60 percent of donations have come from local businesses, with individual community members contributing the remaining 40 percent.

Among the most generous donors in years past are Kingston Lumber, Pacific International Tool and Shear, Klallam Smoke Shop and Little Boston Bingo.

Kingston has hosted Independence Day fireworks displays for years. Only once in recent memory was the show called off – due to insufficient funds.

This year, Raymond is “75 percent sure” the funds will be raised in time to prevent canceling the fireworks. “People always rally at the last minute,” he says. However, he’s still uneasy. “The state of the economy this year is the one thing I’m concerned about.”

Without the Thriftway parking lot to serve as a focal point, coordinators are looking for other places – and new ways – to make up the shortfall.

A community pancake feast is in the works. Raymond hopes to persuade a local labor union to host the fundraising breakfast, which, if arranged, will be held later in June.

Meanwhile, Bryan is working with local businesses to secure donations for an incentives auction. Donated products and services would be auctioned off to community members, with the proceeds going toward the Fireworks Fund. Thriftway is among the first donors to the auction.

Also engaged in the community effort, local firefighters and staff from North Kitsap Fire and Rescue are raising both money and awareness through a fireworks-safety campaign. For the second year, these civil servants will contribute personal donations toward the Fireworks Fund in exchange for pledges from local families not to use private fireworks, which cause injuries and property damage every year.

In addition, one local musician, Scott Bryan (husband of Sheri Bryan), will donate tips from an upcoming performance to the Fireworks Fund. Scott Bryan, an acoustic guitarist and vocalist known for his upbeat covers of Jimmy Buffet and classic pop tunes, will perform at the Kingston Farmers’ Market this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

With time running out, Raymond hopes other community members who love the annual fireworks display will get involved too.

“We have donation jars at the store,” says Raymond. “That’s probably the easiest way to make a donation.” In previous years, he has seen individual donations ranging from a dollar in change to sums of $50 or $100.

Contributions can also be deposited at Kitsap County Bank. Checks should be made out to Kingston Fireworks Fund.

In addition to financial gifts, volunteers are sought to help raise the remaining $10,000. Raymond hopes to hear from “anyone who's willing to help do some legwork.” Specifically needed are volunteers to contact previous years’ business donors and find out whether they can contribute again this year.

With full-time jobs of their own, coordinators put together the spectacular sky show on a volunteer basis. People come from all over the Puget Sound region to view the aerial pyrotechnic display.

Individuals who wish to help with fundraising efforts, should phone Jim Raymond, manager of Kingston Thriftway at 297-3350 (work) or 779-4146 (home).

Businesses who wish to donate products or services to a Fireworks Fund fundraising auction, please phone Sheri Bryan at 308-1800.

To make a financial contribution of any amount, use the donation jars at Kingston Thriftway, or contribute at Kitsap County Bank. Make checks payable to Kingston Fireworks Fund.

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