As published in the Record Journal Wednesday May 29, 2013
By Andrew Ragali
WALLINGFORD — For the fourth consecutive year, fundraising has made the annual Fourth of July fireworks celebration possible.
The fireworks show is scheduled for July 6 at 9:15 p.m. Fireworks will be launched from the knoll by Moran Middle School and will be viewable from the grounds of Sheehan High School and Highland Elementary School.
In 2009, the mayor stopped including funds for fireworks show in the town budget. In response, Town Councilors Jason Zandri and Craig Fishbein formed the Wallingford Fireworks Fund, a nonprofit organization, to raise money for the event. Fishbein has since ended his participation with the group, but still advocates for the show. Zandri continues to work with a small group of volunteers that collected the approximately $30,000 that’s needed for the show.
The group began its fundraising effort in March, when Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr. informed Zandri that the fireworks show would again be left out of the budget. Since then, the group has raised $29,548.
Zandri said a minimum of $24,000 is needed for the show. An additional $3,300 will be used for the R-Band, an orchestral group that will play music during the fireworks.
The expected $3,000 surplus will be set aside for next year’s show. Zandri, a Democrat who is running for mayor, said the money won’t be needed if he is elected because he would include funds for the fireworks show in the budget.
Town Council Vice Chairman Vincent Cervoni congratulated Zandri and his fellow fundraisers. “If people feel strongly about something, they will contribute to it,” Cervoni said.
Dickinson, a Republican who has yet to announce whether he will seek his 16th term as mayor, has said that budget issues are to blame for the absence of fireworks funding.
“I don’t dislike fireworks,” Dickinson said. “I think they’re fun, actually.”
Money received from the fireworks fund will be appropriated to various departments, Dickinson said. Costs for the event include $11,576 for the fireworks show, $10,900 for emergency services overtime, $180 for bathrooms, and $400 each for the services of the Public Works Department and the Board of Education.
About $3,500 was raised at a dinner last week. About $5,000 was raised while asking for donations at local businesses, including Dunkin’ Donuts and Stop & Shop. A $15,000 donation came from The Campus at Greenhill, a Wallingford office complex on Route 68 that’s run by Gale Development Services. The Campus at Greenhill also donated $15,000 last year. “They want to be a good community partner,” Zandri said.
Because of the donation, the event will be titled Campus at Greenhill 2013 Wallingford Fireworks Celebration.
Fishbein called the office complex a “great partner in raising money” for the event. The fireworks show “is always an event I’ve supported,” he said, adding that it’s “unfortunate the town doesn’t see fit to fund it.”
Fishbein said about 12,000 people show up for the show every year.
Zandri thanked his father, Geno Zandri, for countless hours of work collecting donations.