The Ashland Chamber of Commerce turned to selling T-shirts in supermarkets this month to try to raise money for the city's annual Fourth of July fireworks show and parade, after corporate sponsorship dropped off because of the recession.
"Although it's been challenging sponsorship-wise, we got creative this year," said Katharine Flanagan, marketing director for the chamber.
The chamber plans to put on the same parade and 20-minute fireworks show as last year, when the pyrotechnics budget was halved, to $5,000, she said.
Keeping the fireworks show, which can be seen from most areas of the city, was paramount because the City Council voted to ban the personal use of fireworks for the first time this year, she said.
"It's even more important this year," Flanagan said. "We really want to make sure that the community can take part in these festivities by being able to watch a fireworks display."
The chamber will continue to raise money for the festivities even on the Fourth, by setting up a booth in Lithia Park where people can donate.
Local businesses are still reeling from the recession and haven't been able to donate as much money as in past years, so the chamber is trying to make up the difference with individual donations.
"It takes a lot longer to recoup a $1,000 or $2,000 donation when you're asking for $10 donations from people," Flanagan said. "We're asking for people's continued support so we can bring a wonderful fireworks display and event for them."
Last year, the Fourth budget was roughly halved, from about $30,000 to $15,000, she said. Although the chamber's goal is to raise $30,000 every year, at this point, Flanagan said, it is just trying to match last year's halved budget.
Donations from businesses are down "a few thousand dollars," she said, declining to release specific numbers. The chamber raised slightly more than $1,000 by selling T-shirts and other Fourth paraphernalia at Market of Choice, Albertsons and Shop'n Kart on weekends this month. Volunteers will continue to sell shirts from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday at the latter two locations.
Revenues generated from the food, craft and parade fees help pay for fixed-event costs, such as insurance and portable rest rooms set up near the events, Flanagan said. More than 25,000 people are expected to participate in the daylong celebration, typically Ashland's largest public gathering of the year.
The theme of the festivities is "All of Ashland's a Stage," a nod to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival's 75th anniversary this year. OSF Executive Director Paul Nicholson will serve as grand marshal of the celebration.
The parade will begin at 10:15 a.m. Sunday at Triangle Park, near Iowa Street and Siskiyou Boulevard, proceed to East Main Street and finish on Water Street at about noon.
More than 1,000 people are expected to participate in the parade, and about 100 groups have entered, according to the chamber.
Live video of the event will be available at www.ashlandchamber.com and on TV at channel 20.
Beginning at 7 a.m. Sunday, police will close the parade route streets, as well as Morse, Beach and Alida streets where they border Siskiyou Boulevard. The streets will reopen shortly after the parade ends.
A free shuttle service will be available to take people to the Plaza from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The bus will leave Tolman Creek Plaza, where Albertsons is located, every 20 minutes.
People can place chairs, blankets and other placeholders — besides plastic tarps, which are not allowed — on curbs and other public areas bordering the parade route beginning at 6 a.m. on Sunday. However, police will dispose of items that create a safety hazard for pedestrians or vehicles. Chairs and blankets should not block sidewalks and should be weighted to prevent items from blowing out of place, according to the city.
Before the parade, the Elks Lodge, 255 E. Main St., will host a pancake breakfast from 7 to 9 a.m. The event costs $6 for adults and $3 for children younger than 10.
After the parade, dozens of craft and food booths will be set up in Lithia Park.
Mayor John Stromberg will give a brief welcome address at the park's band shell at 1:15 p.m. and a reading of the Declaration of Independence will follow.
Then, from 1:35 to 4:50 p.m., musicians will play at the band shell. The free concert will feature performances by the Ashland City Band, Livia Genise, Kat Del Rio and others.
Also after the parade, the Ashland Lions Club will host its annual July Fourth Chicken Barbecue from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Lithia Park. The club, which has held barbecues since the 1950s, will spend all of the proceeds from the event on local and national service projects. Tickets cost $10.
Before the fireworks begin, the American Band College Directors' Band will hold its 21st annual Fourth of July concert at 8 p.m. at the Ashland High School football stadium. The last 30 minutes of the performance will coincide with the fireworks display. Tickets to the event cost $20 for adults and $12 for seniors, and are free to children younger than 12 with an adult. Tickets are available at the gate or in advance at Cripple Creek Music and www.bandworld.org.
The chamber's fireworks display will begin at 10 p.m. Sunday.
The fireworks are launched at Southern Oregon University's athletic field and the surrounding area is closed to the public from 7 a.m. to midnight. During that time, people will not be allowed in the area encompassed by the city's bike path, Webster Street, Walker Avenue and Wightman Street.
Although raising money for fireworks was more difficult this year, chamber volunteers feel the show will be worth it.
"We're thrilled that we're able to deliver the same fireworks show as we did last year to the community," Flanagan said. "That in itself is a huge undertaking."
Contact reporter Hannah Guzik at 541-482-3456 ext. 226 or email@example.com.