MASON, Mich. — There will not be a Fourth of July fireworks show in Mason again this year.
Mason Firefighters Association wrote in a Facebook post Tuesday morning that "the money used to purchase fireworks and the equipment used to shoot the show comes 100% from fundraising by Association members. For several years now the money collected on the day of the fireworks show has not been sufficient to pay for the show, so the Association has used money raised from other sources to make up the difference."
All of the group's fundraising activities have been on hold during the pandemic. But a lack of money is not the primary reason the fireworks show for 2021 was canceled.
"The biggest problem with it is that, at the time when fireworks had to be purchased, the event has to be planned, it was still uncertain as to what type of regulations or rules would be in place," said Don Waskiewicz, who is on the Mason Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.
Waskiewicz said it costs thousands of dollars to put on the annual fireworks show.
"With the last 15 months having a significant decrease in funding, everybody just has to be real mindful of that," Waskiewicz said. "They're just being responsible and saying that, 'Look if we can't confirm we're going to do it, we can't invest the money because you have to put in a big down-payment, it's non-refundable and if the event doesn't happen...the Firefighters Association doesn't have a place to store the fireworks to wait until next year."
"Therefore," the Facebook post continued, "the difficult decision was made to cancel the show for 2021. The members of the Mason Firefighters Association are very aware that the annual fireworks show is an important event for the Mason area. But please keep in mind that there were numerous circumstances beyond the control of the Association that led to the cancellation of the fireworks show. Thank you for your understanding."
Mason resident Joshua Stevens said the explanation is fair, "but I also think it's one that should have come out originally -- all the rationale makes perfect sense, it was just a little too late, especially if they knew that information back in April."
On Facebook, some people were concerned that they donated to a fund for the fireworks in 2020 and then again in 2021.
Waskiewicz's response to questions of where donations will go was that the association sponsors lots of charitable activities, "scholarships, helps out people in a time of need based on fires, and has a whole host of causes." The fireworks are another, he said, and "any monies that go there is... going to be saved until it's needed."
John Sabbadin of the Mason Firefighters Association, Fire Chief Kerry Minshall, and Mayor Russ Whipple all declined to be interviewed regarding the cancellation of the fireworks show.
"I think the biggest factor is that people are just disappointed with the lack of transparency, and what sort of seemed like an aloof and cold message," Stevens said. "We're just going to go to Jackson or Dansville or somewhere else and watch them...but we were really looking forward to it this year."
Waskiewicz said while there won't be a fireworks show this year, there will be a Fourth of July parade and Sun Dried Music Festival will be back this year at the end of August.
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