Barb Ciaramella is promising Fourth of July fireworks again this year — and they will be held on Wednesday — and a cruise awaits the lucky winner of a raffle associated with the event.
Thousands of people are drawn to the coast on the holiday to watch the explosives light up the sky. But last year, it looked as if though it might be a dud after the local Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) said it no longer had the manpower to host the event at the Port of Brookings Harbor.
That’s where Ciaramella jumped in, gathering volunteers, holding fundraising events and soliciting sponsorship. She got it done with only a few days to spare.
“We hope to never have to do that again in such a short period of time,” she said in a letter to businesses. “This year, we are trying to be very active, very early. But our community was awesome and rose to the occasion.”
The fireworks went off without a hitch — for those on the beach and below the fog. They couldn’t be seen in town, but Ciaramella took it in stride, saying it’s the chance one takes on the coast.
“Now we’ve taken a breath, we’re regrouping and we’re hitting the ground running,” Ciaramella said. “We’ve signed the contract, we’ll have the history pubs starting in February — and the exciting part: This year we have the buttons and there will be a raffle.”
The grand prize is a seven-night cruise for two to the city of choice in Mexico.
It costs about $25,000 to put on the fireworks, which will be launched by Western Display Fireworks. Ciaramella hopes to raise a “little extra” for incidentals and other expenses associated with the event.
Last year, Ciaramella tried to sell lapel buttons for $25 each but the state considered it to be a form of lottery, and she didn’t have time to acquire the license needed. This year, she will only sell 1,000 buttons.
“And the odds are great — one in 1,000?” she said. “We’re pretty excited about it. We think it’s going to go off really well.”
The History Pub Nights, which proved to be popular last year, feature a speaker who is an expert on a topic of local history; last year, they included a photographic history of the town, its architecture, fishing and the story of the Japanese Bomb Site.
Those talks raised about $1,000 each last year. This year, there will be four, beginning in February. The cost is $5 each night, and the activity center will sell dinner and offer popcorn, coffee and cold and hot tea for free. Chetco Brewing Co. will serve beer, as well.
Ciaramella is still seeking a nonprofit or school group that might want to hold an event on the Kite Field at the port that day.
“They’d already have a captive audience,” she said of attendees who come in from afar. “I’d love to see an old-fashioned Fourth of July with sack races, pie-eating contest, hot dogs. Maybe the basketball team can do a challenge, like, maybe the world’s biggest water balloon fight.”
The Brookings-Harbor High School girls’ basketball team has committed again to cleaning Sporthaven Beach the following day.
Ciaramella said people have asked her to hold the event on Monday, July 2, to attract the most people to the coast on a three-day weekend, but she said she doesn’t want to.
“That’s not the Fourth of July,” she said. “If we only get the locals, then we only get the locals. It’ll give us time to get the word out that we’re back and we’re better...they’ll hear, and be back in a few years.”
Contributions can be sent to the Chetco Activity Center/Fund the Fourth, PO Box 1444, Brookings, OR 97415.