Where have all the fireworks gone?

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 2, 2003

&uot;There's a near-dearth of activity slated in Greenville for the upcoming July 4 Independence Day.

This is quite a contrast to the Fourths of recent vintage. It used to be a cause celebre, a legal national holiday, when fun and games were the order of the day.

It's a day that requires recognition, overtly.&uot;

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So saith Advocate sage Buster MacGuire.

Greenvillea city of such patriotism and traditiondoes not have a Fourth of July celebration, and no one seems to know the reason.

Most people go out of town for the Fourth of July, said 17-year-old Robert Householder.

&uot;There just wouldn't be anybody in town,&uot; he went on. Householder himself plans to spend his holiday in Pensacola.

Others speculate that the lack of a celebration has to do with funding.

Fireworks displays are quite expensive, usually in the $20,000 to $30,000 range, such as the ones that used to be held at Cambrian Ridge, said Greenville chamber of commerce director Carol Lee.

Due to the Watermelon Jubilee in August, it would be hard to find volunteers to help with both, she added.

The problem with having the county sponsor a celebration is that there is no central place to have it that would include all parts of Butler County, said county commissioner Jesse McWilliams.

Most taxpayers would not appreciate our spending county funds that way, he added.

City council member Ed Sims said that he doesn't know why Greenville has no Fourth of July celebration, but he thinks it is due to funding.

&uot;I would like to see one,&uot; he said. &uot;I thought it was a lot of fun several years ago when they used to put one on. Somebody would just have to spend the money to have one.&uot;

On the other hand, the Luverne chamber of commerce hosts an annual 15-minute fireworks display, said the chamber's executive director Sherry Richburg.

For the display, each of the 75 Luverne chamber members are asked to donate $25, said Richburg, the cost totaling around $2,000.

Other Greenville citizens said they aren't certain why there is no Fourth of July celebration in Greenville but wish there were.

Willie Mae Robertson said people at the senior citizens center reminisced about the &uot;water battles&uot; held on the Fourth in front of city hall during the 1940s.

Residents from the two sides of the cityMethodist Hill and Baptist Hillwould use hoses from the fire department and spray each other while others cheered them on, said Robertson. The first team to cross the center line was the winner.

&uot;I would like to see Fourth of July celebrations come back to Greenville,&uot; she said.

City council member James Lewis also has childhood memories of the water battles and said he doesn't know why they stopped.

Other residents of Greenville said they are not concerned with the absence of a Fourth of July celebration.

&uot;I really don't have any feelings about it,&uot; said Stephanie Steadham, whose family usually gets together with friends for the holiday.

&uot;I think it would be nice,&uot; she added. &uot;We have a young child, and I think it would be a nice family outing.&uot;

Mayor Dexter McLendon said he wishes Greenville was having some sort of Independence Day celebration, but has been too busy to plan one.

&uot;In the future, maybe we ought to do something through the chamber of commerce or Main Street,&uot; he went on.

Both Lee and McLendon said they had talked about putting on some sort of celebration next year.

Main Street director Nancy Idland, who organized the Red, White and Blue event held in August last year, was unavailable for comment on whether a similar event is planned for this year.