Fourth of July fireworks at Lake Union to go on

The annual Fourth of July fireworks show at Lake Union will go on, organizers One Reel announced in late May.

About 350 companies and private donors contributed to the $500,000 needed to put on the show, said Jon Stone, executive director of One Reel, the nonprofit that organizes the show. More than half of the donors are individuals, Stone said.

Coca-Cola Refreshments — Northwest Region, based in Bellevue, gave the last $25,000 needed to hit the mark Monday.

The organization plans to reach out to the community for multiple donations to fund next year’s show as well, instead of searching for one corporate sponsor, Stone said. In a rough economy, it’s difficult to ask one company to take on the financial burden, he said.

“The community has been very clear that they want the event to move forward, and this is how we’re going to do it,” he said.

By late April, donations hit $470,000 — 94 percent of what is needed to hold the show, according to One Reel.

One Reel announced in January that Microsoft and Starbucks will be the primary sponsors of this year’s Family 4th at Lake Union, leaving the organization with $200,000 more to raise at that time.

One Reel has organized the show for more than two decades, and nearly half a million people watch the fireworks each year, Aubbie Beal, One Reel’s associate director, said.

As many as 50,000 people watch the fireworks just from Gas Works Park alone, Stone said.

In April 2010, after One Reel announced it was canceling the show because it couldn’t find a title sponsor, KIRO-FM (97.3) radio host Dave Ross and restaurateur and One Reel board member Tom Douglas launched a radio campaign to save the fireworks. Douglas pledged $5,000 and challenged other small-business owners to contribute. Ross pledged $1,000.

Within one day, pledges totaled $503,000, more than enough to run the show.

Last year was the first time the show wasn’t backed by one main sponsor. Washington Mutual served as the title sponsor from 2002 until the bank collapsed in 2008. New York City-based JPMorgan Chase, which bought WaMu’s assets, agreed to sponsor the show only in 2009.

But Stone said public support for the show makes it clear the community will continue to fund the show in the future.

“It’s critically important … to the fabric of our community and our culture,” Stone said. “You have to experience the Family 4th in Gas Works Park; once you experience it, you understand. It’s the most inclusive holiday on the calendar.”

Material from The Seattle Times archives was included in this report.

Reprinted by permission from the Seattle Times

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