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"Oak Harbor 4th of July: fewer bucks, less bang"

"Oak Harbor fireworks donationsBusinesses and individuals interested in donating to the Oak Harbor fireworks fund can contact Priscilla Heidecker, executive director of the Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce, at 675-3755 or by mail to P.O. Box 883 in Oak Harbor.Oak Harbor might have a scaled-back version of the traditional Fourth of July celebration once the sun goes down. The usual $10,000-$15,000 fireworks display may have to be cut back to a fraction of that amount because of lack of sponsorship for the event, said Priscilla Heidecker, Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce executive director. Ordinarily, Oak Harbor businesses sign on to sponsor Fourth of July fireworks, donating chunks of money to pay for the pyrotechnic display. Not so this year.An uncertain economy, and the desire to spend advertising dollars where they can get the most bang for the buck, has prompted Oak Harbor business owners to put their funding elsewhere, said Krista Blackburn, economic development coordinator for Oak Harbor Mayor Patty Cohen.They're having to make tough choices about spending, Blackburn said of the city. Fireworks has not been a popular sponsorship for businesses, Heidecker said.However, Heidecker said that another Oak Harbor 4th of July tradition, the parade, is planned to go off without a hitch.It should be a regular home-town parade, she said.While the chamber of commerce began it fund-raising for the event last October, Heidecker said only one business has stepped up to the plate with some funding, but not enough to pay for the entire display. The chamber has placed its usual $10,000-plus order for the fireworks, but Heidecker will have to amend and cut that order if the chamber doesn't come up with the money to pay for it by June 15, Heidecker said. That is a big expense for the chamber of commerce to absorb, said Blackburn. And, it is an expense that the chamber simply cannot absorb, Heidecker said. I think it's something that people enjoy, but they don't understand the cost of fireworks, Blackburn said. The ebb and flow of the economy makes it necessary for the chamber of commerce to shift its fund-raising efforts, she said. Instead of one or two businesses giving $5,000 or $10,000, maybe 100 people have to give $100 (each), Blackburn said. Heidecker agrees that the chamber might need to change its focus on fund-raising for events such as the Fourth of July fireworks. We're considering next year making it a community service sponsorship, Heidecker said, such as putting small-change donation cans in local businesses. Said Heidecker: We're a little unusual in that we expect our businesses to take care of it. We hope the public who enjoys it will want to help pay for it. "

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