The “Thunder Over Manhattan” fireworks celebration may go out with a whimper this year. Chris Darrah, owner of Dara’s Fastlane convenience stores and co-sponsor of the event, said this year’s celebration will be the final one “unless someone from the city or town steps up.” Dara’s and co-sponsor Briggs Auto Group have been seeking an additional sponsor since GTM dropped its participation.
Darrah said he cannot afford to continue to run his business, while also trying to hit up other area businesses for the annual CiCo Park fireworks show.
The entire event costs around $16,000. The three sponsors would split a majority of the cost.
“I’ve got to go and get between $6,000 and $8,000,” Darrah said.
The celebration has been an annual highlight of the Independence Day festival here for decades. But it has become increasingly burdensome. Darrah said trying to run the event has “just become a nightmare.”
“I wish it went through the Chamber of Commerce,” he said. “If every business in the Chamber gave $100, this thing would be taken care of. It has become my event and I didn’t intend that.”
He has talked to between 30 and 40 business and the most he has received per business is $200.
Darrah said the city needs to follow a model that resembles the one Junction City and Wamego use for their fireworks celebrations. Both receive substantial community support.
“Wamego and Junction City are much smaller than Manhattan, yet they put on 100 times the event that we do,” he said. “It’s a three-day event in Junction City and Wamego.”