Communities turn to local residents and businesses to support fireworks shows

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Posted: Wednesday, July 2, 2014 5:34 pm

ENGLEWOOD, Fla. -- Around the Suncoast, crews are already setting up for the elaborate firework displays. In most communities, the work started months ago to raise tens of thousands of dollars. In places like Englewood it's a real community effort to make sure the 4th of July goes off.

In the blazing heat, head pyrotechnician Albert Hoff with Garden State Fireworks spent Wednesday are gearing up to light up the night sky come Friday. "We are getting all the pipes set up for the mortars.

Work actually started months ago. "I started in December to put this together."

Ray Labadie of RJ Labadie Construction is one of more than 100 business owners in the Lemon Bay Sunrise Rotary who have donated their time and or money in Englewood to bring it all together. A $30,000 firework display and what they are calling the Firecracker Festival, with live music, food, and games along Dearborn Street. "The dollars are raised locally by local businesses. It makes a big difference. We would love to have Sarasota County chip in."

Rockets for Change have also been set up in local businesses. It’s a way to bring people together in the small town for the town. "It brings in huge dollars during the summer months when the tourists have left. A lot of people make Englewood their destination for the 4th," says Labadie.

"It's kind of an underground network of people," says Kelly Dowd of Venice Sertoma.

In Venice, the city pitches in $15,000, but the Sertoma Club raises another $10,000 out in the community. "Members volunteer. They sign up for the whole month of June on the weekend. They go out to various Publix stores and do what we call shaking the can," says Dowd.

The rest comes from online donations and annual donors; efforts many probably don't think about while their watching the free shows.

“We really like to give back. Everyone in Sertoma is involved with something else in the community. This is just another way to extend our hand," says Dowd.

Those involved say it's a lot of work for the works, but worth it so the rest of us can focus on the meaning. "That's what it is all about -- Independence Day and the celebration of America," says Labadie.

The Englewood festivities along Dearborn Street will start Friday at 10am.

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