Enthusiasm high, but fundraising for Brattleboro Goes Fourth falls short


BRATTLEBORO -- It's hard to be too discouraged when hundreds of people show up to watch a parade in a steady rain.

Brattleboro Goes Fourth volunteer Kevin O'Connor said considering the number of people who showed up for the parade, and later for the fireworks show, a decent amount of money was raised toward next year's fireworks show and Fourth of July activities.

But Brattleboro Goes Fourth, the volunteer organization that raises money and organizes the events for the town's annual Independence Day celebration, fell far short of its goal to raise $6,000 for the 2015 celebration. When all of the dollar bills and coins were added up only about $1,200 was counted.

And at this point it is unclear what next year's Fourth of July celebration in Brattleboro will look like.

"We are really grateful that we were able to carry out everything we planned to do Friday," O'Connor said. "But now we are left with the challenge of what we are going to do next year and right now we really don't have answers."

Every year organizers pass the hats and collect money at the Fourth of July parade, as well as at the Living Memorial Park activities and fireworks show.

Those fundraising efforts in the past were augmented with a $6,000 donation made by Entergy Vermont Yankee, with all of the money going toward the fireworks show and day's activities.

This year Entergy Vermont Yankee informed the committee that the company would not be making its annual pledge and the tropical rains that fell on Brattleboro Friday had a severe impact on the group's ability to raise money.

So now O'Connor and the other volunteers on the Brattleboro Goes Fourth committee are trying to come up with a plan for next year.

"We're not going to panic," O'Connor said. "If it was sunny day and everyone showed up I don't think we'd be having this conversation. It was clear from the number of people who did show up that there is wide spread support in this community for this event."

The committee has to order next year's fireworks before the end of February and without a major sponsor like Entergy writing a big check O'Connor said the committee can't rely on a late donation.

The committee will meet again in the coming weeks and come up with a strategy, but it is clear that when it comes to committing to next year's fireworks show Brattleboro Goes Fourth will only be able to the spend the money it has in hand.

This year the fireworks show cost about $6,000, and the other services throughout the day, including police coverage, insurance and bands, cost another $6,000.

O'Connor said the committee is going to look at its total budget and try to trim costs where it can.

And at the same time O'Connor recognizes that there are plenty of non-profit groups in town doing important work, and fewer dollars available.

Brattleboro Goes Fourth held a fundraising radiothon on Friday, June 27, but that event was rained out as well and the committee took in a fraction of what is was expecting to raise.

A pretty good crowd turned out Friday and O'Connor said by the time 9:30 p.m. rolled around, and most of the rain had stopped, Living Memorial Park was packed in time for the fireworks.

In the next few months volunteers are going to try to figure out how to pull off a similar event, possibly with much less money

"We need to let people know that it is going to be a challenge going forth," O'Connor said. "We have several months to figure out other possibilities and that is our new challenge. Our plan right now is to have a parade and have all the activities at the park, and have fireworks. The questions are to what extent will it all happen, and how will we pay for it?"

Donations for next year's Fourth of July celebration can be sent to: By the People: Brattleboro Goes Fourth, P.O. Box 1112, Brattleboro, Vt. 05302.

Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at hwtisman@reformer.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 279.


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