Popular area fireworks display may be in doubt for 2020

By: 
Linda Gallagher, Contributing Writer

Courtesy photo

Ellsworth's annual fireworks display, a tradition since 2004, may not continue after this year's show on July 5 if the small group of volunteers that organizes the event cannot raise enough funds to ensure the show's future.

 

ELLSWORTH – Since 2004, the Ellsworth area has been graced with an annual display of fireworks over the waters of St. Clair Lake equal to those of much larger, and more affluent, areas, thanks to the efforts of a small group of dedicated residents.

But the show, scheduled for Friday, July 5 this year, may not go on without financial assistance from those who enjoy the annual event.

"Back in 2004, a group of us decided that the Ellsworth area deserves its own fireworks display," said Jan Rasmussen, one of the core members of the EllClair Fireworks Committee, which organizes and coordinates several events on the evening of the fireworks show in addition to the display.

"So we started raising money, which was no easy feat then and is even harder now," said Rasmussen, noting that the fireworks alone have a price tag of $10,000 a year.

"After the first year, when we did the fireworks show ourselves, we decided to be sure the fireworks were being done safely and hired the same professional company that handles the Boyne City show, which is known as one of the best in Michigan."

In 2007, the group added a "Freedom Salute" to the evening, firing a Civil War era cannon every 15 minutes for each of the several area residents who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the name of American freedom.

"We have a disc jockey that announces the name of each fallen hero after every shot," Rasmussen said. "The sound of that name bouncing across the waters of the lake is very moving."

The tribute continues until 10:25 p.m., when the national anthem is played and the fireworks begin.

Two years ago, the group decided to support the annual Ellsworth Pig Roast held in mid-June and moved the events of the evening to that time slot.

"But it wasn't long before we realized that we just weren't raising the donations, which we depend on, for the show anymore," the Ellsworth resident said. "A lot of people that are here around the Fourth of July haven't arrived in the area yet, and that showed."

Thanks to two generous board members, and the support of both the Banks Township Board of Trustees and the Ellsworth Village Council, the fireworks show was continued, but this year the decision was made to move the event back to July.

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