Faced with a fiscal quandary over Fourth of July fireworks, the City of Lebanon had announced on Thursday, June 11, that it would be cancelling the annual aerial display and concert at Coleman Memorial Park.
On Friday, June 12, Lebanon Mayor Sherry Capello changed course, responding to what she called “patriotic voices” and arriving at a potential solution to making fireworks happen this Independence Day in Lebanon.
Typically, the city’s fireworks display is underwritten by local businesses through a request for donations sent out in March. This year, with the pandemic having triggered the shutdown of many local businesses, Mayor Capello said that the city did not feel it was appropriate to make the annual fundraising plea, not to mention the fact that there remains uncertainty about how large gatherings will take place in the era of coronavirus. Capello said that spectators inside Coleman Memorial Park usually amount to about 1,500 individuals.
In an email to LebTown, Capello noted that the messaging for its Thursday announcement on Facebook didn’t include this backstory – the financial reasoning behind the decision to cancel. But, Capello explained, as the public responded to the potential skipping of a 50+ year tradition, the city was moved to come up with a “compromise” that would see Fourth of July still officially celebrated in some form or fashion.
To become a reality, the event will need financial support from the public, and it will also be different from the traditional offering.
The city is trying to raise $11,000 by Wednesday, June 17, to replace the donations that would typically cover the costs of the display. A GoFundMe page has already been setup to receive contributions from the public. “If we are able to reach that amount, the City would move forward with hosting the fireworks display,” said Capello in an email to LebTown. Donations may also be mailed to the Mayor’s Office.
This year’s display, if held, would include an aerial show, but the park itself would be closed. Capello said that streets around the park could be closed off to vehicular traffic though, and some nearby on-lot parking may be arranged as well.
“We both have a job to do, if we are serious about wanting this event to take place,” said Capello to the public in her email statement. “We hope that you better understand the situation we face and we further hope that you will appreciate that it is our desire, as well, to show our patriotism during a time of uncertainty in our country.”
“As citizens, over the centuries, we made many sacrifices. However, we stood together and came through them. We are innovative and creative. If we work together as a team, I think we may be able to pull something amazing off!”
Mayor Sherry Capello explained the plan further in a video message posted to Facebook on Friday afternoon.
Capello said that if the fundraising effort does not generate enough proceeds to cover the costs of the display, the funds would be used for next year’s event.
To donate to the Lebanon Fourth of July fireworks display, visit the GoFundMe page here or send a check payable to the “City of Lebanon Fireworks Fund” to: Mayor’s Office, 400 S. 8th Street, Lebanon, PA 17042.