Fairlawn foundation hoping to reignite fireworks

By Maria Lindsay

Donations being accepted for July event

FAIRLAWN — Fireworks have lit up the sky in Fairlawn for the Fourth of July holiday for 26 years, but last year, the show and its accompanying concert were canceled due to cost considerations in the midst of the recent recession.

Thanks to a fundraising drive, city officials, with help from the Fairlawn Community Foundation, are hoping to once again dazzle area residents with the show this year.

The foundation, a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit, was created to promote quality of life in the city of Fairlawn, according to city officials. The foundation’s Board of Directors include Gary Himmel as president, David Brockman as vice president, Derrick Ransom as secretary and William Lowery as treasurer. Members include Fairlawn City Council member Barbara Potts (Ward 2), Stephen Matesevac, Ronald Stuecher and Fairlawn Mayor William Roth as an ex-officio member.

Brockman said about $50,000 is needed to present the fireworks and concert, which has taken place at Bicentennial Park. The cost includes police and fire personnel needed to stand by and control the crowds, as well as cleanup afterward.

According to the Fairlawn website, “the fireworks and concert are enjoyed by people of all ages from greater Summit County, and they provide an opportunity to bring the diverse segments of our population together in celebration.”

“This show draws about 25,000 spectators from Bath and Richfield, Copley, Medina, Barberton and Norton,” said Brockman. “We feel pretty confident that it will happen this year.”

So far, the drive has raised about $34,000, according to Brockman.

“The city may step up if we come close enough to make it happen,” he said.

One resident who donated to help bring back the fireworks and concert is former Fairlawn City Councilman Jim Swartz, who served from 1984 to 2007.

Swartz said he enjoyed watching the show since he moved to the city in 1968. The fireworks were set off by Summit Mall at that time, according to city officials.

“We used to watch it sitting in our front yard,” he said. “I was disappointed when it did not happen last year, although I understood the economics of the decision.”

Swartz said he commended the mayor and Council in creating the foundation to help raise funds for such events instead of using taxpayer dollars.

“I encourage residents and businesses to contribute,” he said. “It is a fine tradition to celebrate the Fourth of July with fireworks and the parade. It is a legacy I would like to see carried on in Fairlawn.”

The Fairlawn Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring the annual parade, according to the city’s website. It also did not take place last year due to budget constraints.

To make a tax-deductible donation, send a check made payable to the Fairlawn Community Foundation to: P.O. Box 5304, Fairlawn, OH 44334.

Source: West Side Leader