July fourth fizzle

July 1, 2009 5:19:05 PM PDT
Celebrations are being scaled back this year in some communities.

Officials blame the flagging economy.

In Philadelphia, the Lawncrest July 4th celebration has entertained families for generations. But this year, the bulk of the 94-year-old neighborhood tradition has come to an end. Lawncrest will have no parade and no fireworks.

"It's upsetting," said resident Lisa Lee," because the fireworks are really good. It eliminates the traffic going down to the Parkway."

"It's kind of sad they're not going to have fireworks this year," said 11-year-old Brian Rodriguez. "It really brought me and my family together."

"We really didn't want to do this, but there was no choice, said Gary Weaver of the Lawncrest July 4th Committee.

The economy has forced the community to scale its historic celebration back to the bare bones. Lawncrest typically raises $30,000 through tee-shirt sales and sponsors to pay for the parade, fireworks and family festivities.

This year, Philadelphia requires events needing police and city service overtime to cover that cost. In this case, it is $15,000 the community doesn't have.

"So now to have it, we would need to have $30,000 plus $15,000 for police," said Weaver. He says in the past, the city donated the police presence.

The tough economy has also forced Willingboro, New Jersey to cancel its Independence Day parade and fireworks display. And UNITY day, WDAS radio's 30-year-old signature community event, has been called off.

Lawncrest will celebrate at a neighborhood recreation center with a car show, flea market, baby parade and entertainment. But losing the parade and fireworks kills a tradition for folks like Eileen McCabe who comes to the festivities then, like many, watches the fireworks from lawn chairs outside their homes.

"What's the fourth of July without fireworks?" she asked.

Despite the tough economy the Lawncrest July 4th Committee has not given up completely. They will spend the next 12 months trying to raise enough money to be able to put on the parade and fireworks show next year.

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