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Votes

Going Dark?

Funding needed for Great Falls July 4 fireworks.

“Last Friday’s meeting didn’t result as we had hoped it would,” said Sharon Rainey, president of Neighbors Foundation.

The Great Falls based Rotary Foundation notified Neighbors Foundation that they would not be taking over the annual 2014 July 4th Fireworks event.

“This leaves the community in a real bind. At this point, there will be no fireworks in Great Falls this year, unless an organization steps forward within a week’s time,” Rainey said.

She explained that the contracts and permits are usually signed with deposits sent by the middle of January.

Rainey said that the morning events, including the 5K, parade, and amusements in the Village Centre will still be held. It is the evening event at Turner Farm Park in danger of going dark.

“We have a window of only 10 days before our vendors move on to other clients and we potentially lose the ability for anyone to host the event,” she said.

Last August, the Raineys met with Mike Kearney, saying it was time to pass the baton for this event. Jeff Rainey, chairman of the Fireworks event, had worked closely with Kearney for the 15 years prior when Kearney was running the entire day’s events, starting from the morning parade to the evening fireworks.

The Raineys no longer have school-age children, both are in their 50s and are ready to scale back their schedules. The couple owns and runs their own local businesses (Home Equity Builders and myNeighborsNetwork) and Sharon Rainey is authoring and releasing her second book this spring.

“Jeff handled the entire evening event, from gathering sponsorships to laying out the parking,” Kearney said. “Over time, he has created a turnkey operation that now just needs a leader and a handful of volunteers.”

Rainey said, “We have a core group of volunteers that help each and every year. The Boy Scouts help with set up, accepting donations at the gate, and clean up. Pat Nugent helps with the generators, Jon Paul takes care of the entertainment. Rich Curd, and Wayne Gamotis work tirelessly from laying out the site to helping run security teams. Everyone knows their job and they make it a fun event to run.”

Kearney brainstormed with the Raineys and they approached a few local nonprofits. No one was interested. Then news came out that Rotary Club was setting up a nonprofit foundation. A meeting was held, everyone agreed this was a perfect match.

“In the end, it doesn’t really matter what happened,” Sharon Rainey said. “What does matter is now we need to find a local organization willing to take on this project and we need to find them within a week’s time or there will be no fireworks in Great Falls this year.”

If any nonprofit organization is interested in taking over the 4th of July Fireworks event, contact Sharon Rainey at 703-929-2399 or Sharon@neighborsfoundation.org.