Editorial: Let’s support those who help us celebrate Independence Day.

June 29, 2016


#MasonCountyPress #LudingtonAreaJaycees #IndependenceDay

Editorial by Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief. 

How many of you go to the parade and/or fireworks in Ludington on Independence Day? For my family and I, this is one of our favorite times of year to be in Ludington. There is just something special about the Fourth here. I may be biased but few towns have a better Independence Day celebration than the Ludington Area Jaycees Freedom Festival.

You see, this is not Ludington’s event. It’s the Jaycees’ event. The city does help the Jaycees through generous donations of manpower and equipment, but for over 60 years, this small group of young adults (Jaycees [JC] is an acronym for Junior Chamber of Commerce) has put on the premier July 4 celebration along the lakeshore.

Recently the members of the Ludington Area Jaycees sent out a request to the public to help donate towards the annual Freedom Festival July 4 fireworks display. The fireworks display is expected to cost about $20,000. The club has only raised a quarter of this amount and is in need of the rest. MCP posted a story about the fundraising need and the accompanying Facebook post resulted in several people criticizing the Jaycees about supposedly waiting to the last minute to ask for funds.

I can tell you from personal experience, as a past president of the Ludington Area Jaycees, that this organization is one the hardest working (and one of the smallest) service groups in Mason County. This group of people, all under the age of 40, put together the Freedom Festival at no cost to the tax payer. It relies strictly on volunteers and donations to get the job done. Let’s think about those two words: Volunteers and donations. Those are things people do because they want to, not because they have to.

Let’s break this down: How much money do you plan on spending on July 4? Are you having a barbecue? Will you go out to eat? Going to buy a box of sparklers for the kids? Perhaps fuel up the boat and go for a ride? How much do these things cost? What about your plans the rest of the summer? Do you have vacation plans? My point is, the Jaycees are asking you to budget in a small contribution to the fireworks as well, it’s a small price to pay for creating lifelong family memories.

Fireworks fundraising chairman Travis Meidema stated that if every person who attends the fireworks would give just $1 towards the fireworks that this year’s show would be easily paid for and the Jaycees would have a pretty good sized down payment for next year’s show. He also added that if all businesses that profited from the Fourth of July weekend would contribute (and many do contribute) that there would be an even greater fund. When I was involved with fundraising for the fireworks 15 years ago, I had the exact same thought process. There is no entitlement and there is no law that requires this community to have a fireworks display on Independence Day.

There seems to be a misperception of many people that this is an event that the City of Ludington puts on for you. This is not the city’s event, nor should it be. In fact, the Freedom Festival, a celebration of our nation and its independence, is the perfect metaphor for what makes this country great. A group of young people saw a need in this community many years ago and took the initiative to take on a project that has resulted in one of the busiest times of year for this area, meaning area businesses see a great financial gain because of the Freedom Festival.  That tradition has continued for several decades and we all hope that it will continue for several more.

So, it’s time to be supportive of the Jaycees and thank them for doing an outstanding job so our families are entertained. This goes for area businesses too. Think of your contribution as an investment.

Send your contribution to Ludington Area Jaycees, PO Box 411, Ludington, MI 49431.

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