Grass-roots effort under way to save Seattle fireworks show

Grass-roots effort under way to save Seattle fireworks show
People came to Gas Works Park as early as noon for the 10pm fireworks display. Every year tens of thousands come to Lake Union for Seattle's only fireworks show. July 4th 2012. (Joshua Lewis / KOMO News)
SEATTLE -- A day after it was announced that Seattle's annual Fourth of July fireworks show along Lake Union was canceled due to lack of money, an effort is under way to resurrect the event.

Local chef Tom Douglas is now leading a grass-roots effort to raise the needed $500,000 to put on the show, much like his successful rescue in 2010 when the firework show was also threatened due to lack of funds.

This time, Douglas is putting up $10,000 and asking for 98 local business to pony up $5,000 each to reach the needed budget.

"I'd hate to see that opportunity slip by while businesses didn't know much about it," Douglas said.

One Reel, which manages the production, had set a March 31 deadline to raise the $500,000 needed for the event.

"We were several hundred thousand dollars short. It wasn't even close," One Reel spokeswoman Aubrey Bergauer said on Monday.

But Douglas said he thinks part of the problem was the fund raising effort wasn't well publicized.

"So we as a city didn't raise enough funds. We only came up with $55,000," he said. "I wanted people to know before (the fireworks) actually did go away that this opportunity was out there."

Bergauer said Monday that even if a last-minute source of funding were found this week it would be too late to organize a show this year.

"This deadline is a real deadline. It was driven by our suppliers," she said. "The reality is it's just not going to happen."

But Douglas is still holding out hope.

"I'd love to see OneReel jump back in," Douglas said. "But if they don't, I think there's other promoters around town and I think the city could jump in."

Douglas said more than half the budget comes from providing security and cleaning up the neighborhoods around Lake Union after the show. He says the city somehow manages to provide those services for other outdoor events and they should be able to do the same for the fireworks.

"It's something we do for ourselves as a community that's different than any other event," Douglas said. "I think this town wouldn't be the same without some fireworks."

Seattle was a two-fireworks show town as recently as 2008. The Ivar's-sponsored 4th of July fireworks show over Elliott Bay was canceled in 2008. It ran for 44 years.