MIDDLETOWN: No boom, just fizzle on Fourth of July
By Eric Robinette
There will be no rockets’ red glare or bombs bursting in air over Middletown this Fourth of July, but community leaders are working to see that fireworks will return next year.
When All American Weekend folded earlier this year, Middletown’s fireworks display also fizzled. The Middletown High School Athletic Boosters canceled this year’s festival, citing low attendance and revenues.
“I like fireworks, but there’s no shortage of places having them,” said Mark Webb of Middletown.
Middletown residents eager to see a dazzling pyrotechnic display will have to travel to nearby Lebanon, Hamilton or Eaton.
Jessica Osborne, 20, said she planned to go to Cincinnati to see fireworks.
“It was kind of like a tradition here,” she said about the Middletown display.
Kevin Howard, 13, said he may shoot his own firecrackers instead.
“I was mad, because now I don’t have a reason to go with my dad,” he said about learning of the event’s cancellation.
Middletown’s signature holiday weekend event this year will be the new Main Street Art and Music Festival, which takes place Saturday. The event will feature nearly 20 different music acts performing in the area of Broad Street and Central Avenue and Main Street, but no fireworks.
And that’s not for lack of trying, said Sue Rogers, a member of the Art Central Foundation, which helped coordinate the festival.
“We made a few phone calls, but we were going to have to go to so many businesses and people (for money) it just wouldn’t work,” said Rogers.
But, the Art Central Foundation intends to bring the fireworks back to Middletown for July 2007.
The group plans to raise the money gradually so that Rozzi’s Famous Fireworks, which stages most area shows, can be booked in advance, Rogers said. The cost of the annual fireworks display was about $20,000.
Trenton also is without its own fireworks display for the second year in a row, said Mayor, Rhonda Freeze. Trenton’s fireworks fell victim to budgetary constraints, she said.
“It’s so unfortunate because the event draws a lot of people,” Freeze said, estimating that 200 to 300 people came to Trenton’s display.
Attendance figures were not available for All American Weekend, but organizers said most people seemed to come for the fireworks, leaving the Smith Park event sparsely populated on its other days.
In previous years, Middletown’s fireworks display was made possible through the combined efforts of local businessmen Perry Thatcher, Steve Posey and Bill Akers, and the late former state Sen. Barry Levey. They sponsored a display the first time All American Weekend took a hiatus in 2003.