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Lake Meridian fireworks show fizzling, organizers seek donations

Without as much bang for their buck this year at the annual Fourth of July Splash fireworks show at Lake Meridian Park, organizers are asking residents and businesses to donate money to help fund the display.

Because of the rising costs of the fireworks, the Lake Meridian Community Association chose to expand its fund-raising beyond the 145 homeowners around the lake to help pay for the display. Lake Meridian Park is at 14800 SE. 272nd St., just west of Covington.

“We’d like to keep it as big as we can,” said Sally McDonough, secretary of the community association.

The city of Kent, co-producer of the fireworks display, matches up to $6,000 of the amount of money raised by the association. As of June 6, the neighborhood group had raised about $3,000, said Michelle McDowell, its president.

“We’d like to get to at least $6,000,” McDowell said. “Our ultimate goal would be to raise $8,000 for about a $14,000 show.”

The fireworks show last year cost $15,000, one of the biggest displays at Lake Meridian.

“The problem is it’s getting more expensive every year,” McDowell said. “With $12,000 (this year), you would see a smaller show.”

The rising costs of fireworks have become too much for Lake Meridian homeowners to fund without help.

“The fact is we’re not getting as many donations,” McDonough said. “The community needs to know it’s not totally funded by the city. We hope people will kick in $25 or whatever they can.”

Any donations would be used specifically for the fireworks show, McDonough said.

Entertainment Fireworks Inc., an Olympia compamy that will stage the fireworks display at Lake Meridian, has seen costs jump for fireworks as well as the fuel for the trucks to transport them. The company will do about 80 Fourth of July shows in five states this year.

“Just like milk and bread and everything else, the costs have gone up drastically,” said Judy Julian, president of Entertainment Fireworks. “We’ve had a 34 percent increase for our product.”

Julian said the company buys most of its fireworks from China because they’re less expensive than fireworks produced in the United States, where labor costs are higher. But this year, Chinese manufacturers also have raised their prices.

Customers have been advised that the shows by Entertainment Fireworks will cost at least 10 percent more this year for a show similar to last year, Julian said. She added the Lake Meridian group has until late June to determine how much to spend.

City officials don’t plan any increase in the fireworks budget. “We’re not in a position to bump up the contribution,” said Mark Hendrickson, cultural programs coordinator for the Kent Parks Department.

Besides the cost of fireworks, the city pays to provide free shuttle-service buses from three nearby parking lots to the fireworks at the park, as well as the costs of the performance groups that entertain from noon to 10 p.m. July 4 at the park. That includes the Rainier Symphony’s performance.

“We’re all in the same boat of getting funds,” Hendrickson said. “Like the homeowners, I’m looking for sponsors to offset the costs of the event.”

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