The best way to determine how much something is appreciated is to take it away. If you have ever had a paper cut between the pinky finger and the ring finger, you can relate. It is safe to say that this year’s Kankakee July Fourth laser presentation was not appreciated by the majority.
If the social media response to the laser show that replaced the traditional fireworks could be used as a measurement of appreciation of real fireworks, next year’s Kankakee Valley Symphony Orchestra fundraiser should be one for the record book.
Apparently, people love fireworks. That is the overwhelming message delivered to the mayor of Kankakee. Even the fireworks lovers who are not residents of the city of Kankakee, the county or even the state of Illinois were hotter than a firecracker about the laser show.
Fortunately, the laser versus fireworks issue was immediately nipped in the bud.
It ended faster than a fizzled out sparkler.
To her credit, Mayor Chasity Wells-Armstrong addressed the outrage mere hours after the event. Going directly to the source, Mayor Wells-Armstrong met the disgruntled on their turf, Facebook Live.
She explained why the decision to utilize a laser show was made.
She explained the budgeting protocol.
She identified the event partnerships and their respective roles.
Transparency at its best.
According to the mayor, the annual event is a multipartnership collaboration. Kankakee Community College provides the venue, security and other necessities such as electrical and facilities.
The city of Kankakee pays for the presentation.
KVSO hosts the event as it is their biggest fundraiser.
So, what went wrong? Absolutely nothing.
A fiduciary-responsible decision was made on behalf of the city’s property taxpayers to not pay a proposed doubling of last year’s fireworks cost.
The cost for fireworks on the actual holiday this year was going to be $20,000. An alternative, a laser show, was implemented for half that cost.
Other contributing factors for trying the laser show were to avoid potential injuries, reduced cleanup costs and to address the issues that some veterans and dogs might be ill-affected by the noise.
Again, kudos to the mayor for addressing the issue right away. And for taking it directly to the people.
She also listened to suggestions given via Facebook, and she responded to some of the rational comments.
She also diplomatically bypassed some of the purely attention seeking comments that were totally irrelevant to the topic. The mayor also left the door open to further suggestions for next year’s event. Ideas for how to better fund a fireworks show and the possibility of holding it on a day before or after the holiday to reduce costs are welcome.
As one Facebook commentator pointed out, not every citizen of Kankakee contributes to the July Fourth event. That burden rests on the shoulders of the property taxpayers.
However, that is something that could be easily remedied by adding a $3 patriotic fee onto the city vehicle sticker to support the costs of the fireworks.
That fee would permit every vehicle with a valid city sticker free admission to the event. In essence, owners of all those cars that drive to the Beckman Park side of the river to see the fireworks for free would then have the right to complain.
Next year, the city of Kankakee, KCC and KVSO will present a real fireworks show. How big is to be determined. If based on the interests shown by social media patriots, it could possibly be the biggest show in America.
One thing is certain, you won’t be able to blame the mayor of Kankakee. She has already tossed the first $500 in the kitty.