By Tim Leeds
A spectacular fireworks display is lined up for Independence Day, but without help it may be the last grand display, said the service organization behind it.
"Even though everybody has a blast and we love to do it, we just can't afford it," said Louann LaSalle, president of the Havre Junior Chamber of Commerce.
The Junior Chamber, whose members are known as Jaycees, funds the annual display through sales at its fireworks stand, but has been coming up short to pay for the display, LaSalle said. The last few years the shortages have been especially bad, and was several thousand dollars last year, she added.
The organization has been making up the shortages with the money it has budgeted for other activities, but that limits the Jaycees' other projects and ability to help other groups and organizations. The display has to be paid for in advance of the show, she said.
The Jaycees hope people in the area will step in to help, LaSalle said, by purchasing fireworks at the stand or by making donations.
Jaycee Jason Murri, who is an employee of the Havre Daily News, said the organization found some new suppliers and was able to nearly double the display for this year while spending less money. But if the Jaycees come up short again, next year's display will have to be reduced.
LaSalle said she is concerned the display might have to be eliminated completely if the Junior Chamber can't pay for it from fireworks sales.
The Havre Jaycees have put on the local fireworks display for at least 25 years.
The display for the Fourth of July this year will have more than 700 shells, Murri said, with 300 reserved for the finale. The largest shell is 10 inches in diameter, the largest used in the Havre display for about 10 years, he said.
Havre will participate in a grass-roots movement inspired by the tragedy of Sept. 11 "The American Tribute." The fireworks will stop for a minute or two following the finale, then three solitary shells will explode. The first will be red, the next white and the last blue.
The special tribute, organized by a nonprofit foundation under the National Heritage Foundation, uses the colors to symbolize the American spirit and patriotism, a release by the foundation says.
Murri said half of the show, for the first time, will be fired in a computer-controlled, choreographed display. The other half will be fired by hand.
Also for the first time, the Jaycees will sell special fireworks glasses. The glasses, resembling 3D movie glasses, use a prism-like effect to add rainbow-colored streamers to any light source seen through them.
The glasses, which cost $1, are available at Just a Dollar in Havre, and will be sold by Jaycees the night of the display Murri said half of the proceeds from sale of the glasses will be used to fund the Junior Chamber's shooter education program; the other half will go to the fireworks display.
No public parking will be allowed at the fairgrounds the night of the display, Murri said. The Junior Chamber is also asking that no one set off any fireworks of their own during the display.
The Jaycees' stand is improved this year, Murri said, and will offer about 250 items compared with about 150 last year.
The stand will open Monday in the Super 8 motel parking lot. The hours will be 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, and from 10 a.m. July 4 until dark or all merchandise is sold.
Donations can be mailed to P.O. Box 1327, Havre, MT, 59501. For more information, call LaSalle at 265-2604 or Murri at 265-5818.