It’s a classic case of everyone wanting to go to the party, but no one wants to clean up.
The Great Falls Friends, a community group responsible for the annual 4th of July parade and carnival, is looking for volunteers to help organize, coordinate and work the events next year. But the lack of volunteers is concerning the association, which is considering not holding the event if they don’t get more help.
“A lot of people show up for the July 4th activities and they seem to love it,” said Eleanor Anderson, a member of Great Falls Friends. “But if we don’t get more volunteers, it’s very possible there won’t be a parade.”
Many people come out to volunteer the day of the event to help with the parade and concession stands, but it’s the planning and set-up of the events that are the most time consuming.
“I don’t want to be sour grapes here, because we do get great volunteers, but it’s right at the top that we need help,” she said. “Year after year, it’s the same people doing all the work.”
Great Falls Friends president Candace Bovee agrees.
“It takes about 50 people” to plan and put on the events, which include games, food, inflatable toys for children in addition to the parade and fireworks. “Right now, we have maybe 10 people working on the events,” she said.
“There’s a lot of setup to do, people grilling hot dogs, people grinding ice for snow-cones, making popcorn, selling t-shirts,” Bovee said. “We need people to do traffic control, get the parade going, each component of the day needs several people.”
As president of the organization, she said that people who’ve been working and helping out with the event for years are beginning to get worn out and tired.
“Last year, I handled 75 percent of it myself,” she said, with some help from her husband. “Next year, I won’t be able to do it, so we do need more people.”
THE ORGANIZATION HAS tried to spread the word to get more volunteers through newsletters, word-of-mouth and the FYI network, Bovee said, but it doesn’t seem to work.
“We had meetings for volunteers last year and several times, only four people showed up,” she said. “People new to town don’t realize that there’s no city government, they think the town council takes care of the event but it’s up to us,” she said.
“I’m not sure what to do.”
Janet Servis has been working with the Great Falls Friends for four years doing various tasks for the 4th of July events.
“I started as a Newcomer and helped with the games, then I became a board member,” she said. “People in Great Falls Friends are active members of the community and wear lots of different hats, so they do lots of things,” Servis said.
“This is one of these events that the community looks forward to and everyone has a good time, but they don’t realize how much work it is,” she said. “There’s a lot of work for our limited membership, and people want to go to the events but they don’t want to work. The joke is that there’s more people in the parade than watching,” she said.
For a hometown celebration, Servis said most people who attend the event are from Great Falls. “It’s mean to be very basic, but it’s always the same people doing the same things,” she said.
“Maybe if we don’t do it one year, people will miss it and help us out in the future,” she said.
Bovee said the work involved in putting on the day’s events is not difficult at all.
“The first year I coordinated everything, I was frantic, so the second time I did it, I put together a notebook to make it systematic,” she said. “It’s all there, it’s just a matter of getting people to help out and help us organize.”
“It doesn’t take up too much time,” she said. The Friends start to make calls to organize the events in April, and by the end of May a commitment is needed for the events to be held, she said.
“If we don’t have what we need by then, a decision will be made,” Bovee said.
“It’s a great time, a really fun day and if you enjoy it so much, give us a bit of your time,” she said.
To volunteer with the Great Falls Friends, contact Candace Bovee at 703-759-0375, or Eleanor Anderson at 703-757-0448.