It’s unfortunate that unless something dramatic happens, there will be no major Fourth of July fireworks show in Manhattan for the first time in years. It’s disappointing, but it’s not a tragedy.
Folks who want to see a big fireworks show can find an option 15 to 20 minutes away. Wamego has a spectacular and growing show — one that has attracted Manhattan residents even when Manhattan offered Thunder Over Manhattan in CiCo Park. Junction City also offers fireworks, and the show Manhattan Country Club puts on July 3 is worth watching.
Those options might be small consolation for Manhattan residents who don’t want to leave town or for whom a big fireworks show is a matter of civic pride. Manhattan has an abundance of civic pride and awareness — and that goes for the businesses that often are depended on — even expected — to subsidize these shows.
Few things are easier than asking someone or some business to chip in a few thousand dollars — or many thousands — so we can all sit back, sip our lemonade, chat and ooh and ahh at the bursts of color and the thunderous claps that startle us even though we know they’re coming.
For many years, businesses or groups of businesses have stepped forward on this holiday. Among recent “sponsors” of our Fourth of July entertainment are Jan and Chris Darrah of Dara’s Fast Lane, GTM Sportswear, Briggs Auto Group, the Westside Business Association, Colbert Hills and Landmark National Bank. Rather than grouse at these or other businesses for not continuing to shell out considerable sums of money for fireworks, we would do well to show our appreciation for their generosity.
That generosity, by the way, doesn’t end with fireworks; those companies and others chip in to countless causes, not the least of which are the Flint Hills Breadbasket and the United Way. Every year Briggs gives a car to a Manhattan High School student whose attendance the previous year was perfect, and every year Little Apple Toyota Honda gives a new car to a lucky area teacher. We have a beautiful pavilion in City Park thanks largely to GTM. The list of corporate — and individual — donors is endless, and civic clubs exist to enrich this community in a variety of ways. The absence of a fireworks show isn’t keeping the Solar Kiwanis Club from holding its annual pancake feed July 4 so the club can support area youth groups and projects.
In addition to money, putting on a fireworks extravaganza takes a massive commitment, maybe from one person or maybe from a team whose members have the ability, dedication and the time to make things happen. This endeavor doesn’t require captains of industry so much as it requires immensely industrious people. If such individuals out there, maybe we’ll have a fireworks show next year.
In the meantime, we’ll miss the fireworks display in CiCo Park. But in the grand scheme of things, a half-hour of fireworks doesn’t hold a Roman candle to the other gifts businesses large and small bestow on this community and its residents.