An Island institution responsible for giving a bang to the season is having a hard time.
The Oak Bluffs Firemen’s Civic Association, which collects contributions each year to cover the cost for the August fireworks over Ocean Park, is this summer struggling to raise enough money.
“It is getting harder and harder,” said Ken Davey, president of the association.
This year’s fireworks are scheduled to take place on Saturday, August 23.
The show is always a spectacular event. Thousands assemble at Ocean Park. They listen to music played by the Vineyard Haven Town Band in the park bandstand, and they get a spectacular fireworks display rising high above Nantucket Sound.
This year’s pyrotechnic performance will cost the association $20,000. Raising that amount of money has been hard.
At last year’s show, the association had put up a lot of fundraising cans with the hope that the positive mood of the evening would inspire people to donate as they left the show.
“Those little buckets scare people,” Mr. Davey said. Not much came in.
“Our funds are low this year because of all the changes we’ve had to do in the park to make it safe,” he said. “I’ve had to spend a lot of money. We used to put up orange fencing. We can’t do that any more. We had to buy about a thousand feet of barricades and trailers and more signage.”
It is a costly enterprise to do from year to year.
To help cover the costs, the association is offering a fireworks cruise. “The tickets sales have been iffy,” Mr. Davey said.
Fortunately, the association got a big boost last weekend in T-shirt sales at the foot of Circuit avenue. But that hasn’t been the case for past weekends.
Mr. Davey said the contributions to the nonprofit organization have been down. “We are doing half of what we did last year,” he said.
Fundraising is a year-round effort, but much of the work occurs at this time of year. People can understand the value of the fireworks, the association’s signature event. If there is money left over, the funds are contributed to the association’s other charitable causes.
The association has a high school senior scholarship fund which gives out at least $4,000 a year. The association also gives money to help people in trouble.
Warren Pearce, president of American Thunder Fireworks Inc. of North Reading, which is putting on the show, is familiar with the association.
Mr. Pearce said he deals with a lot of fire departments and a lot of civic fire associations.
“The civic association is one of the best groups I’ve dealt with and I deal with a lot of them,” he said.
“It is quite different how they do take care of themselves,” Mr. Pearce said. “They have an attitude about making things happen.”
Contributions to the nonprofit Oak Bluffs Firemen’s Association can be sent to P.O. Box 1673, Oak Bluffs MA 02557.