Thousands of people flood the streets of Blaine each year on the Fourth of July to watch fireworks light the night sky. It’s an annual tradition that gets bigger and better every year, organizers say, and something that the community really looks forward to.
“It’s a really big show for a small town,” said event organizer Carroll Solomon. “It usually lasts 30 to 45 minutes and you can see it perfectly from anywhere on the harbor. And because we’ve been dealing with the same pyrotechnics company for so many years, they usually throw in a little extra for us, so it’s extra special.”
However, the colorful display (and day-long event that accompanies it) carries a big price tag, and with cuts across the board, it is becoming harder and harder to fund.
The annual Fourth of July celebration is the biggest event held by the city and it draws in visitors from around the region for a parade, music and events along with the culminating light show. “It typically costs around $16,000 just for the fireworks,” said Blaine chamber treasurer Kimberli Shea. “Altogether, the event costs $30,000. We had applied for a $10,000 grant from the Blaine Tourism Advisory Committee, but they weren’t able to give it to us this year like they have in the past.”
The closure of the Semiahmoo Resort was a major contributing factor to the loss of tourism dollars. Many groups and events across Blaine lost funding in the wake of the hotel’s demise, and have been left scrambling to make up the deficit.
The chamber was able to raise $7,000 at this year’s Bite of Blaine event, but is still searching for donations to fill the gap. “We do have some reserves from last year, as well as sponsorships that help. It’s scary to say that we have to raise $23,000 to put on a huge event in a little town, but the fireworks are what most people come to see so that’s what we’re focusing on.”
Businesses such as Pacific Building Center are stepping in to sponsor the event, and on Memorial Day weekend will be asking customers to make a donation to fund the show. “Last year we raised $300 in two days over the Memorial Day sale,” said Kimberly Akre, the chamber’s vice president. “We’re going to run the sale for four days this year and see how much we can raise.”
Donation jars will be also be placed in area businesses so that passersby can drop a dollar or two into the hat, and event sponsorships are available.
Akre said the chamber was optimistic about the event. “We made a decision that the lack of BTAC funding was just a bit of a stumbling block, and that we would find a way to make up the difference and have the same activity as we have had in the past. Nothing has changed,” she said.
For more information about the event, to become a sponsor or to donate, visit the Visitor Information Center at 728 Peace Portal Drive or Pacific Building Center at 2677 Bell Road or call Akre at 360/332-5335.