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Lake Murray festival faces funding crunch

Posted: May 25th, 2018 | News, Top Stories | No Comments

Doug Curlee | Editor at Large

Fireworks, music and food will once again be offered at Lake Murray on July 4, but it may be a somewhat slimmed down effort compared to last year — unless there is a sudden rush of donations and sponsors.

The fundraising goal to put on the festival is the same as last year — $75,000. The committee raised a little more than that in 2017, because the fight to return the fireworks after several years of absence caught the imagination of donors, both corporate and public.

Volunteers helped raise money by delivering over 13,000 fliers at resident homes throughout the Navajo community area and parts of La Mesa. (Courtesy Lake Murray Fireworks)

However, for whatever reasons, that isn’t happening nearly as well this year.

Rob Hotz is working to turn that around, but it’s slow going.

“I can’t understand why we’re having trouble,” Hotz said. “Everyone says the economy is in better shape now than it was last year, but we’ve lost several of the corporate donors we had last year, and no one is really stepping up to replace them. We also are not getting nearly the public response we got from residents in the San Carlos and La Mesa. We got 385 personal checks from people last year, but so far only 237 checks this year. We’re still hand-delivering flyers to residences in the area. We’ll eventually place 14,000 appeal flyers on doorsteps.”

Organizers of the event are suggesting a donation of $50 per household, although any amount is appreciated, according to fundraising material. Neighbors that plan on going to the fireworks and music festival that donate will go a long way, but small, individual donations are not the only issue event organizers are dealing with.

“Where it’s really biting is in the corporate amounts,” Hotz said. “We got $53,000 in corporate funding last year, but so far only $30,500 this year.”

According to the event website, available corporate sponsorships range from $500 to $7,500 and come with a variety of perks, including booth spaces, mentions during the event, logos placed on event material, framed certificate of sponsorship and more.

As of May 18, the total raised from all sources is about the same as just the corporate donors last year — $53,500.

There was a small reserve of funding left over from 2017, but the committee really doesn’t want to have to throw that into the pot here — that would leave the committee pretty much flat broke for 2019, without seed money to even start planning for next year.

Hotz pointed out that the expenses of putting on the show have risen from last year. City fees have gone up. Police and fire fees are higher. The public made it clear last year that more porta-potties and handwashing stations were needed.

It all adds up to more upfront expenses than the committee faced in 2017 — something they hadn’t really anticipated.

There is no doubt there will be a festival with fireworks and music from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. on the July 4. There will also be a number of food vendors there — nine of them at last count.

But unless the fundraising situation turns around, it’ll be a stripped-down version of last year’s event.

If you’re motivated to donate or to help, you can do it by contacting the committee at lakemurrayfireworks.org. There is also a Gofundme page at gofundme.com/lakemurrayfireworks. But hurry, there’s not much time left.

— Doug Curlee is Editor at Large. Reach him at doug@sdcnn.com.

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