Supporting 4th of July a true test of community spirit
Camden — There are very few occasions where all of us can come together around a shared event. Christmas dominates December, but not everyone claims December 25 as their holiday; Valentine’s Day is wonderful but for couples; everyone could be Irish on St Patrick’s Day but not everyone necessarily wants to be; this list goes on.
The fourth of July, though: that’s different. All Americans- and friends of America- can join together in celebrating the best of this country and the ideas that underpinned its creation. The Fourth of July reminds us that we aren’t perfect but we should never stop trying to do our best by ourselves, our families, and by others. It’s the ideal national day, where high ceremonial pomp meets picnics and cookouts in a people’s celebration of the nation’s birthday. No matter who you are, if you find yourself in America on the Fourth of July you are family.
Camden has a long history of great Fourth of July celebrations and passed-down traditions. A look through the archives reveals copperplate accounts and sepia-tinted memories of a community coming together and pitching in to honor this great holiday. The underlying theme over the decades has been shared efforts to mark the occasion, with all elements of society doing their part to ensure a fitting celebration.
When I came to the Chamber of Commerce back in January 2009 it became obvious that after several years of understandable and appropriate absence due to the then presence of eagles on Curtis Island, circumstances would now allow us to bring the tradition of Fourth of July fireworks back to Camden harbor. Although beset by bad weather that first year, the past couple of years have been spectacular and have added to the festive feel of the holiday alongside incredible music provided by both the Camden Rotary Club and Bay Chamber Concerts. Even post consolidation, the Chamber bears the effort of staging Camden's fireworks and each year calls on Camden residents and businesses to support the cost. The town, while generous with donated services and time, does not contribute financially to the display.
Fireworks are not cheap. The cost of Camden’s annual Fourth of July fireworks is around $12- to $14,000. Given that several thousand residents and visitors pour into town, ascend Mt. Battie, and line the waterfront to watch them, it is an appropriate amount to spend but the Chamber does have to raise the money from scratch every year. We have been blessed with a very generous matching donor in recent years who makes the going somewhat easier, but I must confess to a twinge of concern every spring when we begin to fundraise.
We have been able to make the fundraising target in each of the past three years. The one thing that gives me pause however is that the fundraising base is somewhat narrow. With a population of around 4,000 and the addition of thousands more who come to see the show I’d like to think we can broaden that base. For this to be a true community celebration, true to our American values, we should all pitch in rather than rely on the kindness of strangers like a town full of Blanche Duboises.
We have added a nice incentive to make a donation this year. Chamber member Joseph Corrado Photography has made a series of prints of last year's spectacular show available in a variety of sizes, with a percentage of each purchase going directly to fund the 2012 display.
To preview the images visit http://jcorradophotography.com/prints/fireworks/. It's easy to order: simply add your favorite or favorites to the basket and you'll soon have a great photo, great memories, and will have helped light up Camden harbor for 2012. If you would prefer to make a contribution without purchasing a print, please send a check to the Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber at PO Box 919, Camden, ME 04843, marked "4th of July fireworks". No contribution is too small.
If you remember how perfect last year couple of years have been, with the day-long music, stunning weather, enormous crowd, and incredible fireworks all combining for a magical few days, then I'd like to call on your support and generosity to recreate the magic this year. I'm seeking the support of the whole community to ensure the success of this event, a great day for Camden. Let's show off our vaunted community spirit and pride in our region by working together to celebrate our nation's independence.