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City seeks help to keep Fourth of July celebration going

Updated: November 12, 2013 6:13AM

YORKVILLE — It appears the city will appeal to the community to find a way to keep the Fourth of July celebration alive here.

A consensus of aldermen this week rejected an idea to combine Fourth of July with the city’s Hometown Days Festival, which usually is celebrated during Labor Day weekend.

The thought, which came from the city’s Park Board, was that the four-day festival in September would become a two-day festival over Fourth of July. The entertainment, food, games and rides of Hometown Days would become part of the Fourth of July celebration, along with its traditional fireworks display.

Park Board members made the suggestion largely because of finances. The city has run Hometown Days for 21 years, the last eight years through the Parks and Recreation Department.

While Hometown Days traditionally has been a moneymaker — it made $27,043 as recently as 2012 — it actually lost $478 this year.

For 57 years, the fireworks display for the Fourth of July was organized and paid for by the Bristol-Kendall Fire Department. Last year, the department announced they could no longer handle the event, and the city took it over, along with the help of many citizens and Yorkville organizations.

The event actually made about $6,300.

But that surplus only came about because the fire department paid $10,921 of the $13,000 fireworks fee this year. For 2014, no fire department funds are pledged toward the event.

“We don’t have the funds the fire department gave us,” said Tim Evans, interim parks and recreation director. “We looked at how can we keep going and keep it going for future generations.”

City staff agreed with the Park Board recommendation, largely because of the cost. But most aldermen said combining the events would, in effect, kill Hometown Days, which has been largely successful and is a tradition.

Alderman Carlo Colosimo, 1st Ward, said the city would not really be combining the festivals, it would be creating a two-day Fourth of July celebration, and “giving up on Hometown Days.”

“I understand why the firefighters had to back away from Fourth of July, but we’re not the ones backing away from (that),” he said. “It was never ours. Hometown Days was ours, and I really don’t want to get rid of Hometown Days.”

Alderman Diane Teeling, 4th Ward, pointed out that Hometown Days has almost always made money. The reason it didn’t this year was because one entire day was washed out by rain, and most of the rest of the weekend was impacted by bad weather.

“We generally make a profit on Hometown Days,” she said. “It’s a good event.”

Mayor Gary Golinski said the city would continue to “be involved in some way” with Fourth of July, but cannot afford to run it completely.

“Somebody else will have to step up,” he said.

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