No fireworks for Elburn, without a new sponsor

By on September 24, 2010

Chamber cancels Day in the Park
by Lynn Meredith
ELBURN—It costs money to put on a free event: $16,000, to be exact, when you’re talking about paying to execute the Day in the Park and the fireworks display in Elburn.

Day in the Park has taken place every weekend after July 4 but one since 1997. Sponsored by the Elburn Chamber of Commerce, it has been a chance for people to enjoy a day of free, family-oriented activities at Lions Park and stay to watch the fireworks at night.

However, because of the event’s cost, the Elburn Chamber of Commerce is saying “no, thanks,” to staging Day in the Park in 2011. The chamber recently suspended its sponsorship and has no solid plans to start up the event again in the foreseeable future.

“We took a $6,000 hit this year,” Day in the Park chairperson and Elburn Herald Design Director Leslie Flint said. “Unfortunately, it rained on Sunday afternoon, and we weren’t able to charge for parking. We usually bring in $5,000 to $7,000 from parking. We asked ourselves, ‘Is it worth losing the chamber for the fireworks?’ We decided it wasn’t.”

Besides the $10,000 the chamber needs to pay for the fireworks, the organization requires even more money to pay for portable toilets, trash receptacles, park rental, and insurance for Day in the Park. Police protection and traffic control, alone, cost $1,000. Add that to the work involved in putting on the event, and the event takes a toll on chamber members

“We put in a lot of hours, a lot of time and a lot of money, and with no gain to the chamber,” Flint said. “We have never made money, but we’ve at least broken even, and we’re OK with that.”

The chamber itself survives on membership dues from local businesses and events like Aleburn, mud volleyball at Elburn Days, an annual golf outing and a winter dinner. Due to the weak economy, the organization has seen the business donations it usually counts on dwindle.

“It’s always been a fight to get money to do the fireworks,” Flint said. “We’ve seen fewer and fewer volunteers, fewer donation and lesser amounts in the donations we receive. There are only so many things you can do to raise money without stepping on the toes of other groups.”

The chamber put on two pork chop dinners in an attempt to raise funds for Day in the Park expenses. Flint said while it’s a good way to benefit both the Lions Club and the chamber, the Chamber only makes $2.50 on each dinner.

“We have to sell a lot of pork chops to make $16,000,” she said.

Despite efforts to get the word out about how expensive this free event is to put on, the results were disappointing, as were some comments the chamber received after this year’s event.

“We put forth effort over the last two to three years and put in a lot of work,” Flint said. “It’s been disappointment to everyone in the chamber. It’s disappointing to hear the negative feedback; that people would complain about a free event. We can’t change the weather.”

The chamber will not stand in the way of any other organization that wants to assume sponsorship of Day in the Park in the future.

“We don’t want to deprive Elburn of fireworks,” Flint said. “If someone comes up with a check for $15,000, why would we not have the event?”