Day in the Park to return?

By on November 18, 2013

ELBURN—Fireworks may return to Elburn in 2015, and both the Chamber of Commerce and the Elburn Lions Club have formed committees to revive the Day in the Park festival.

The fireworks were scuttled in 2008 for financial reasons, sending many families to neighboring towns for Fourth of July festivities.

But three residents—Chamber Vice President Dan Murphy, Lions Club President David Broze and village trustee David Gualdoni—have been working together behind the scenes for the past six months to bring back Day in the Park.

If the festival returns, it will be held the weekend after the Fourth of July—potentially either July 11 or 12—at Elburn’s Lions Park.

“A lot of people go out of town on a holiday weekend,” Murphy said. “We want people to be able to celebrate in their community. So we probably would want to have (the fireworks) the weekend after the Fourth.”

Broze, who is heading up the Lions’ fireworks committee, said that although there was a lot of enthusiasm about the idea, bringing back the event is both logistically and financially complicated.

“It’s kind of like playing dominoes,” Broze said. “You’ve got to get everything lined up.”

Hosting fireworks costs between $10,000 and $15,000 each year, Murphy said, and coming up with that money has been a major hurdle to bringing the event back.

The Chamber is considering ways to raise enough money to fund the first year, including doing fundraising and potentially using some of the money it raises during its annual golf outing, Murphy said. After that, Day in the Park will have to pay for itself.

“Previously, there wasn’t a lot of (financial) success with Day in the Park,” Murphy said. “It was hard to pull people in for all day, but we’re thinking about things that will draw people in and create fireworks revenue. We’d like to be able to earn enough that it’s self-sustaining.”

One of the major concerns, he said, is that the Chamber and the Lions Club do not lose money on the event, as they did in prior years.

Since the fireworks themselves will be free, Murphy said, Day in the Park has to have other activities that would bring in money, such as food vendors and live bands. The committees are working to determine what activities might help raise revenue, Broze said, and few specifics have been decided.

“The only thing that really we have a consensus on is that we are open to looking at (reviving Day in the Park),” Broze said.

Broze said the other challenges were largely logistical. Large events like Day in the Park require a lot of planning and time, including getting approval from the Village Board, arranging for the Police Department to do traffic control and for Public Works to post signs, schedule activities, bring in portable bathrooms, arrange clean-up and garbage removal, and find enough volunteers to work the event, he said.

Right now, Broze said, the main thing that the Lions Club needs in order to bring fireworks back to Elburn is volunteers. The fireworks committee currently has five or six members and needs more, he said.

“The challenge is just time. That’s really what it comes down to. We’re all volunteers, the folks down at the Chamber are volunteers, (and) in my opinion, our village trustees are also volunteering a lot of their time outside of the meetings. We’re all working after hours and during lunchtimes to make this happen,” Broze said. “You only get so many dinners with your family and, you know, time is always our biggest obstacle. That can be overcome if you have more volunteers. Something that might take one person years to do can be achieved in several months if you have a team together.”

Murphy told the Village Board in September that the Chamber was considering bringing back the festival, but nothing has been presented to the board for action yet, Gualdoni said.

“I hope it comes back; it’s a nice family-friendly event,” Gualdoni said. “I know the Lions Club and Chamber are working on it. We’ll see what they come up with.”

He agreed that getting enough volunteers to plan and fundraise was a challenge.

“The problem is that you can’t get people to commit to work it,” Gualdoni said. “A lot of (people in Elburn) are from out of town, and a lot of people are just busy. It’s like anything else in life. Some people will go above and beyond. Some people are busy with their own lives.”

Anyone interested in volunteering to help bring back Day in the Park can contact Broze at (630) 465-8890.