Independence Day's night sky bursts with color, thanks to the Jaycees
PRINCETON — Thousands of area folks have attended a Princeton Jaycees Fourth of July fireworks show at least once in their lives. For many, it's an annual tradition.
Illinois Valley Living asked Matt Cochran of the Princeton Jaycees to explain a little bit about the work the Jaycees do to put on the show.
Q. What all has to be done to make the fireworks show a reality?
A. We start by hiring a pyrotechnics company that will orchestrate the actual show. Throughout the year, we fundraise for the show through mailings and fundraisers that we put on. The day of, we have members setting up caution tape fence line to keep spectators from getting into the hazard zone. That night, we are fortunate to have Gary Swanson graciously help us with sound/music. Also the coordination with the Princeton Park District, which has always let us be able to have an amazing location to host this show. That night, we break it all down and the pyrotechnic company cleans up their material.
Q. Whereabouts in Zearing Park is the show set up?
A. The fireworks company sets up on the south side of the baseball side fields.
Q. What kinds of fireworks do you anticipate this year?
A. The fireworks will be very similar to years past and will include a wide variety of mortar shells as well as various artillery shells. We leave it up to the professionals to decide what is best for us, based on a price point we have told them.
Q. When will the show begin (date and time)?
A. The show will be on July 4th and will start at approximately dusk.
Q. How long does the Jaycees fireworks show generally last?
A. The show will last for approximately 13 to 15 minutes.
Q. How many people generally attend a Jaycees fireworks show?
A. It varies from year to year and is largely dependent on the weather, but we anticipate a good crowd for this event. An exact number is hard to say due to multiple entry points to the park. We don’t sell tickets or have an entry fee, we just want everybody to enjoy the show and be thankful for the gracious businesses and individuals that donate to this event. Without them, there is no fireworks show.
Q. Who are some of the agencies and civic groups and others who help to manage the crowd and otherwise operate the show?
A. Princeton Police and Fire have a presence at the park as well as the Junior Explorers. Other organizations like the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts are usually around providing various services or goods. Of course, the staff of the Princeton Park District have a big part in the preparation and the aftermath of an event like this.
Q. How much money does it take to put on a fireworks show like the Princeton Jaycees’ show?
A. The typical show that we put on is about $10,000 to $13,000. We have multiple fundraising events throughout the year and, as I stated before, are very fortunate that we have so many generous businesses and individuals in this area.
Q. How important are financial donations from local businesses and individuals to the show’s success?
A. About 80 percent is by businesses and individuals and the money raised from the Jaycees events. The other 20 percent is through a grant that we apply for through the Chamber. Without the generosity of others, we would not be able to put this together.
Q. If someone wanted to make a donation, how could they do that?
A. Easy, drop a check into the mail to the Princeton Jaycees, P.O. Box 142, Princeton, IL 61356, or you could sign up to Flamingo someone’s house. This is where you can pay us $25 and we will put a whole bunch of pink flamingos in the person of your choice's yard for a few days. It’s a fun and harmless practical joke between friends. For more info, look on our Facebook page, Princeton Jaycees.
Q. Who are some of the Jaycees members who play leading roles in making the fireworks show a success?
A. We have many members that give up their time to participate in the wide range of activities and events that the Princeton Jaycees are a part of year round. We are a group of 18- to 40-year-olds that want to give back to this community as much as we can.
Q. If someone wanted to become a member of the Jaycees, what are the requirements, and how would they go about signing up?
A. Anybody between the ages of 18 and 40 can become a member. The best way is to messenger us on Facebook or just ask one of us at the next function you see us at. There is a small yearly membership dues, but in the grand scheme of things is worth it to gain a few new friends and be part of something that gives back so much for the community.
Q. Anything else you would like to say about the fireworks show?
A. We would like to just say thank you one more time to the businesses, individuals and Princeton Chamber for donating. We also hope to see you out there on July 4th for the show.