By JEFF CLEMETSON | La Mesa Courier
Since the July Fourth fireworks display and music festival at Lake Murray was brought back in 2017 after a six-year hiatus, thousands of residents of the Navajo neighborhoods, La Mesa and visitors from all over San Diego County have enjoyed the event and its high-quality family fun and entertainment. This year’s festival promises to deliver much of the same. However, organizers are worried about a lack of money raised to seed next year’s event and are calling on the community to step up and donate what they can to ensure the local celebration of our nation’s birthday continues into the future.
According to the Lake Murray Fireworks and MusicFest GoFundMe page, the group has raised $60,000 of its $85,000 goal, with much of those funds coming from sponsors such as title sponsor Stormberg Orthodontics.
Despite the $25,000 shortfall, the show will go on.
“Right now it’s happening,” said Rob Hotz, a volunteer organizer of the fireworks festival. “We have enough to pull this year off. We have dipped into the majority of our savings from previous years in order to do that.”
What that means is that there will be no seed money for next year’s event. Seed money is required for the necessary permits and fees, and for the vendors that need deposits several months in advance to provide fencing, portable restrooms, the concert stage and even the firework display itself.
“They need the money well before the core of our fundraising effort for that year, so dipping into our savings this year as much as we have does put a damper on what we could pull off next year, or if we can pull it off next year or not,” Hotz said.
The fundraising strategy for the fireworks event is two tiered — get corporate sponsorships and also raise money from residents who attend the event through the group’s GoFundMe page and a door-to-door campaign where residents are left an envelope to send in checks.
“Both have been down this year for one reason or another,” Hotz said, but added that sponsorships have picked up in the last couple weeks. “On the resident side, it’s hard to raise money too early from the community because they are not thinking about the Fourth of July in January.”
This year, the door-to-door fundraising only received donations from a few hundred families out of many thousands of envelopes that were delivered to homes.
“There’s more than 300 families that go to the fireworks every year so we have a huge population that is not donating and they come to the fireworks. I don’t know why that is,” Hotz said. “To me, that’s a giant frustration. If everyone who went to the fireworks just donated a couple bucks, we’d be there.”
Festival organizers always have a booth at the event with a jar to collect donations and typically raise around $6,000 during the festival, Hotz said, but it is not something he and the other volunteers prefer to do.
“All of us as a committee have made a very concerted effort to say when the Fourth of July event is here, we’re here to enjoy the Fourth of July,” Hotz said. “I don’t want to pound people over the head and beg for money on the Fourth of July, that’s not what the day is about.”
Festival organizers prefer that people who plan on attending the festival make a donation in advance at the GoFundMe page or by sending in a check in the envelopes they received on their doorstep. The suggested donation is $50 per household but anything people can give is appreciated, Hotz said. To donate, go to bit.ly/2Ufr4MR. For more information about the event, visit lakemurrayfireworks.org.
In addition to funding for the July 4 event, the festival organizers are also in need of volunteers on July 5 to help make sure the park and surrounding neighborhoods are clean. The cleanup begins at 8 a.m. and will finish around noon. Coffee, water and donuts are provided and it is an excellent chance for students to get community service hours logged. People interested in volunteering can sign up at signup.com/go/MEEFODa.
The Lake Murray Fireworks and MusicFest runs 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on the Fourth of July. Food vendors participating in this year’s event include: Corbin’s Q, Dang Brother Pizza, Windmill Farms, Primo’s Mexican, Finest City Kettlecorn, Doggos Gus and Rita’s Italian Ice. A variety of children’s activities will be held throughout the day including a scavenger hunt.
The festival draws a rotating crowd of more than 3,000 people, while the 9 p.m. fireworks show can be seen by an estimated 100,000 people throughout La Mesa and San Diego’s Navajo neighborhoods of Grantville, Allied Gardens, Del Cerro, and San Carlos. The music stage is located at Lake Murray Community Park, 7001 Murray Park Drive, in San Carlos.
Lake Murray Fireworks and MusicFest schedule:
11 a.m.–noon: TBA
12:30– 2 p.m.: Frankie T & The Triple Bee (blues)
2:30–4 p.m.: Big Time Operator (18-piece big band)
4:30– 6 p.m. (Bam Bam (Elvis/British/rockabilly)
6:30–9 p.m.: Republic of Music
9 p.m.: “The Star-Spangled Banner” and fireworks display
— Reach Jeff Clemetson at firstname.lastname@example.org.