SOME things should not change. The annual Fourth of July fireworks show on Lake Union is one of them.
One Reel, the Seattle nonprofit that has organized the annual lakeside show since 1988, has canceled it for 2013, citing low fundraising.
The March 31 deadline for One Reel to raise $500,000 came and went. Even if a big donor came forward now, there is not enough time to nail down security, fireworks, a barge and a tugboat, the organization said.
If this is actually true, and not a last-minute cry for a sympathetic donor, let’s look onward to 2014. The show has more than a year to secure a major sponsor and forge a multiyear agreement that offers a sustainable, reliable path forward.
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There ought to be takers. The Lake Union show is one of Seattle’s signature summertime events, attracting 50,000 people to Gas Works Park and many thousands more in boats on the lake.
Fireworks with the Seattle skyline as a stunning backdrop — Independence Day doesn’t get much better.
The show’s finances have always been iffy. Washington Mutual was the title sponsor from 2002 until the bank filed for bankruptcy in 2008. New York City-based JPMorgan Chase purchased WaMu and stepped in temporarily as show sponsor in 2009. One Reel canceled the show in 2010, but a galvanized public — led by KIRO-FM radio host Dave Ross and restaurateur Tom Douglas — raised enough in a single day to keep the show.
Despite having sponsors that include Starbucks, KING 5, Talking Rain, the Seattle Weekly and local radio stations, One Reel has increasingly had to rely on smaller corporate and private donations. That kind of piecemeal approach is difficult to sustain. Without a long-term agreement with a major donor, One Reel’s fundraising challenges begin anew each year.
The Lake Union fireworks show will be sorely missed this year. It ought to return next year.