By Jeff Gallatin
Officials at the Village Foundation are setting off some bright sparklers this year in an effort to have a big bang at the 2014 Bay Days Fourth of July fireworks display.
Eileen Vernon, president of the foundation, said the group wants to make sure city residents and people wanting to donate funds to help pay for the display (which annually ends the Bay Days July 4 activities) in 2014 understand that there is a specific fund set up to help pay for the Bay Days fireworks.
“The regular Village Foundation funds from the annual drive will not be used for this purpose,” Vernon said. ‘Those funds are used to support many other projects throughout the city. The (fireworks) fund will be named the Bay Village Community Fireworks Fund. All such specified donations will be managed as a community service by The Village Foundation.”
Foundation officials’ involvement with a separate fireworks fund began in 2012, when Mayor Debbie Sutherland and city officials indicated that because of the ever-tightening budget for Bay Village the last few years, the city could no longer pay for the fireworks display. Shortly afterward, Sutherland said an anonymous donor offered a large donation to start a private fund to pay for the fireworks, with a promise to make a similar contribution for the 2013 display. After that, the funding for future fireworks displays will have to come from other donations.
After the initial donation, the foundation was asked to administer the fireworks fund, which it agreed to do. The fund was set up to allow people or groups to make a tax-deductible contribution specifically earmarked for the continuation of the fireworks display, Vernon said.
“This is a donor-specified fund,” she said. “All contributions made for this project must designate the Community Fireworks Fund.”
Vernon said the foundation carefully manages all its funds, saying people wanting additional information can go to www.thevillagefdn.org. She added that as with all requests for funds from the foundation, the person or organization – in this case the city – is required to submit a grant request along with documentation. After it is received, providing there are sufficient funds, the foundation will be made to the city for the fireworks.
City Law Director Gary Ebert, who was a founding trustee for the foundation and remains active with the group, said it’s an important distinction now that the city is no longer paying for the fireworks.
“People need to understand that the city is not putting any funds into this,” he said. “It is coming from the private fund set up for the fireworks and managed by the foundation. We want to make sure people understand that if they want to help, they have to donate to that fund specifically.”
Vernon said fireworks are a big draw for Bay Days, as well as Bay businesses and not-for-profit groups involved in Bay Days raising funds for their projects. She said there have been suggestions about possibly forming a committee of Bay Day vendors, which could come up with a plan to include the cost of fireworks as a percentage of their annual net proceeds. She said another possibility brought up was forming a group to go door to door and collect for the event. She said other suggestions are also welcome.
Vernon said some donations have already been made, including $1,000 by the foundation and nearly $1,000 in separate donations by several residents.
“The goal will be to raise $11,000 before March 15, 2014,” she said. “That will allow the city time to order the materials.
“The Bay Days celebration has included fireworks for more than 50 years,” Vernon added. “The maintenance of this fund will allow residents, businesses and civic groups to raise money throughout the years for the fireworks display. As Mayor Sutherland stated last year, ‘This type of generosity is a hallmark of Bay Village citizens.’”
Donations may be made to the Bay Village Community Fireworks Fund, The Village Foundation. P.O. Box 10422, Bay Village, OH 44140.