This is the story of why we're working to Save Kirkland's Fourth.
With today’s challenging economy, families and communities are struggling. Uncertainty has become a way of life. Jobs are in jeopardy. Homes are facing foreclosure. Businesses are closing while those remaining are working harder than ever just to survive. The idea of celebrating anything to many seems unfathomable. Yet, it is during times like these that the annual celebration of the 4th of July is now more important than ever.
In Kirkland, like in cities across the country, the 4th of July represents many things. For adults, it is a time of family, friends and celebration with the annual parade, picnics, barbecues, a day out on the lake and of course the fireworks! For the children, it is a time of pure joy that includes the excitement of decorating their bicycles, dogs and themselves to be a part of the annual Kids’ Parade. And for Kirkland businesses, the 4th of July is a time of community involvement that includes donating of time, resources, financial support, and participating in the parade itself.
But what if this year, in 2009 when a 4thof July celebration is needed most, there is not enough financial support, volunteers or parade participants to actually make it happen? What if the economy has not only negatively impacted our personal and business lives but our community lives as well? Do we just wake up the morning of July 4th and tell our children, family and friends that today is just another day with no parade, no fireworks and no celebration? The answer most certainly must be NO!
Sadly, without a community effort to “make the difference,” Kirkland’s 4th of July is in jeopardy. With dwindling sponsorships, grants, volunteers and participants, it is quite possible that in 2009, the most Celebrate Kirkland (www.celebratekirkland.org), the nonprofit foundation that funds and supports the Kirkland Fourth of July celebrations, can produce is the parade. Without an additional $15,000 raised for the fireworks show, the odds are good it will be canceled.
“It’s hard to imagine a 4th of July without fireworks,” says Penny Sweet, longtime Kirkland resident and founder of Celebrate Kirkland. “It’s like showing up for a birthday party and finding out there is no birthday cake.”
Hearing about the possibility of a 4th of July without fireworks, Kirkland resident and Chamber of Commerce member Susan Burnash, of Purple Duck Marketing, stepped up to create an integrated fundraising campaign to push out a call to action to the community of Kirkland.
“Each year, we do two major pro bono campaigns,” says Susan Burnash, President of Purple Duck Marketing. “This time it was an easy yes to Save Kirkland’s 4th of July. I’ve lived here for four years now and I love Kirkland. Each year, I walk down to the parade to watch the kids, the floats and all the businesses, marching bands and veterans who have become a staple of that day. I spend the rest of the day downtown, shopping, hanging out with friends, and finally end up at Marina Park to watch the fireworks. There is no way I could accept a 4th without fireworks without a good fight.”
The fight, as Burnash puts it, is a community fight and a community effort. Utilizing a variety of ways to reach Kirkland residents including Facebook, Twitter, online giving, e-newsletters, flyers, networking and media support, “Save Kirkland’s 4th of July” is gaining momentum. Residents and businesses are stepping up and doing what they can to ensure that the day will be not only be as good as it is each year, but that this year, in the face of so much diversity, it will be better and even more meaningful.
And funds, resources and volunteers are starting to trickle in as the community is starting to see it takes a group effort to save the day. Mini fundraising events are underway, including last week’s “Build a Fushia Planter for Spring or Mother’s Day.”
“We raised more than $600 dollars from that one,” says Sweet, who held the event at her retail wine store, The Grape Choice. “It may not seem like a lot but this stuff adds up. Even the smallest donation can make a huge difference.”
With more than 40,000 homes in the City of Kirkland, and a diverse group of businesses, Sweet is hopeful that with everyone’s help recruiting the funds, volunteers and parade entries will be possible.