From the Celebrations Committee chairwoman, Tina Davis:
Two and a half inches of rain equals POSTPONEMENT!!
I want to thank ALL of Ellsworth and the surrounding areas for the interest they have shown in the events we had planned for this past weekend. We truly appreciate the understanding you have given our committee for the “tough” decision we felt we needed to make.
It was early Friday evening when the Ellsworth Celebrations Committee realized that there was a problem. As John Ziegler, fireworks coordinator, dried out his rain soaked, 30,000 pound semi truck loaded with an arsenal of fireworks, he realized there may be a problem with placing the trailer for Saturday evening’s event. Committee members were called to the scene and were surprised to find John vacuuming water from the displays/launching tubes. While the backdrop for the scene was beautiful, it was a field of UNCUT wheat and lots of standing water. “Houston, we have a problem!”
Alternate locations were immediately being considered for the event. These included the Golf Course, Kryzik Park and the Airport just to name a few. Several local farmers, land owners and lease holders were also contacted, all of whom were willing to work with the committee in an effort to allow the event to go on as scheduled. The committee was joined by Fire Chief Bob Kepka and Highway Patrolman Murray Marston, who physically walked various locations – all of which were either saturated or surrounded by uncut wheat fields.
Saturday morning at 6:45 a.m., several committee members and volunteers gathered near the Kwik Shop to prepare for the Cowtown parade. As I opened the hatch to my Jeep to retrieve the metal stakes used for signage, a roar of thunder snapped me to attention. I quickly joined the rest of the group at the Kwik shop where we found shelter from the lightening and rain.
At that time, the committee received three separate weather reports — all indicating rain throughout the morning. By 7:45 a.m., we received calls from several land owners and farmers who had again walked their property in hopes that a moisture free night would have helped our soggy situation, but the added moisture Saturday morning only hampered our efforts and that of the farmers who were still not able to cut.
By approximately 8:00 a.m. it was decision time – move forward with the parade or cancel? The deciding factors for the parade seemed to be obvious – rain with the potential of lightning mixed with men, women and children walking on the street and people riding on floats or being pulled in a wagon – the elements just didn’t seem to ring true for safety. Decision – safety now instead of sorry later. In addition to the decision to cancel the parade, we realized the situation with trying to set off the fireworks while there was uncut wheat still in the fields was a potential fire hazard for the farmer – a HUGE concern. We simply could not and would not chance the possibility of a stray spark wiping out someone’s wheat crop.
Then we also faced the fact that the standing water at our parks and in the fields would make the situation just too muddy for event participants to access without making a mess of the land. At this time the committee unanimously agreed that the risks far outweighed the “fall out” of postponing the event.
Of course, in hindsight —–
For anyone who has been a volunteer to an event of this size, you can understand and appreciate the hundreds of volunteer hours it takes to coordinate such an undertaking. Postponing an event of this scale only creates more work for the handful of individuals who step forward and volunteer. In a nutshell, the decision to postpone the event was not made without thoughtful consideration by all of those involved.
I would like to extend a personal thank you to several individuals who stepped forward and spent most of Friday night trying to search out alternate locations and/or offered options for the event; Murray Marston, Bob Kepka, John Ziegler, Georgina Bates, Dave Kempke, Exie Barber, Clarissa Cunningham, Jonathan Mitchell, Ken Arnhold and Ronnie Tenbrink.
To the dedicated few who helped coordinate the events of the weekend – Lou Boley, Dianne Hochman, Delbert Armbrust, Sandy Urbanek, Clarissa Cunningham, Jonathan Mitchell, Dave Smith, Amy Eck, Morgan Dobrinski and Joe Pruitt – with my sincerest appreciation and gratitude, THANK YOU – THANK YOU — THANK YOU!!!!
WHAT NEXT??? Our contract with the fireworks vendor allowed for one back up date, which was Sunday, June 29, 2008. This wouldn’t work as we felt the crops might still be in jeopardy. Fortunately, we were extended an opportunity to reschedule to July 12, 2008,—-this coincides with Fort Harker Days. Our committee made contact wih Mayor Cherie Sauers and Event Coordinator, Linnea Beebe regarding the potential of bringing the fireworks display to Kanopolis this year. What was and is important to us, as a committee, is that we didn’t want to compete with Fort Harker Days —- yet we didn’t have much of a time frame with which to work.
Knowing our dilemma, Kanopolis graciously welcomed us with open arms and offered their support. Meetings between the two committees will start this evening (Monday, June 30). So at this point, it appears the Military Salute and Fireworks display will be held in Kanopolis on July 12, 2008. Exact times and places will be noted after our meetings.
Again, on behalf of the Ellsworth Celebrations Committee, I thank all of you for your interest, understanding and support.