January 08, 2014 - By Meg Peters
Review Staff Writer
Fourth of July fireworks, held for years in Lake Orion, will be launched on the other side of the lake in 2014, from Orion Township.
In past years the fireworks were blasted from barges on the east side of the Bellevue bridge, closer to Green's Park.
The move is not permanent, and the fireworks could potentially move back to the east side next year.
Carl Cyrwoski, President of the nonprofit organization that funds the fireworks, the Lake Orion Fireworks Association (LOFA), said the move across to the township's side of the lake would make the entire process easier.
"It's just exciting that people really want to help out, they're just jumping up saying, 'we'll do this, we'll do that', and before it was just a big battle," Cyrwoski said.
In the past few years the LOFA has experienced a "lack of cooperation," including being asked to pay for clean-up the day after the show, and also to pay for extra village police the night of the show, Cyrwoski said.
"We kept getting hit, 'you should pay for this, you should pay for that,'" he said. "It's hard enough to raise all the money through our volunteers than to pay for other expenses."
Payment, clean-up, and trespassing issues were discussed at the January 14, 2013, village meeting. A resolution was passed saying LOFA did not have to pay for cleanup not associated with the actual show.
Police Chief Jerry Narsh said they have never billed the LOFA for additional police, but a shift in responsibility occurred when the fireworks were moved to July 4th instead of the following weekend, and his officers had to rearrange their holidays.
"Our history has been, from my perspective, one of really good cooperation. We worked really well together," Narsh said. "I think, fairly, a lot of people have not recognized the hard work LOFA does in raising the funds, in making sure it's a really good, quality show. But a lot of entities have to work together to make that happen."
LOFA raised around $30,000 last summer for the show, which cost about $26,000. The other $4,000 paid for promotional materials and licensing for poker tournaments, which helped fundraise for the event.
Narsh also said: "There is a false perception out there" that the village pays for the show, frustrating LOFA, who has to fight harder for funds, and that supporters should donate more to make fundraising easier for the community event.
Officials of the village, village police, and township and Oakland County Sheriff's Department officials have all said they will support LOFA no matter what side of the lake the fireworks are on.
For this year's rendition, LOFA is building a large platform to shoot rounds off west of the Bellevue bridge, and north of the sandbar. Patrons will still be able to see fireworks from Green's Park.
LOFA is a separate entity from the village, and can therefore dictate from where the fireworks will blow.
"We continue to look for ways to improve and make things better. All I know is that the village has worked hard to support the event in the past and looks to continue doing the same," Village Council President Ken Van Portfliet said. "I'm saddened for the thousands of people in our community, and our businesses."
Cyrwoski said the LOFA does not care if they are credited with the show, but that a spectacular display requires everyone's involvement.
"The biggest thing is we want an awareness, and help from people who watch them to support them, and we generally don't have that awareness from the people who come to the fireworks from outside of the area," Cyrwoski said. "They think that the fireworks are free. They don't know how much work it takes, and they don t believe it either, so now they will."
Fundraising for the display this year will also be a tad different. Instead of the raffle, LOFA is offering a package of sponsorships to organizations, businesses and individuals.
The largest sponsor, the Lake Orion Dragon Sponsor, is a $15,000 package that will include a July 4th private party and dinner with prime viewing of the fireworks for 25 people, among other perks.
"I've given them some input as far as ideas of maybe changing up the way they fundraise because historically they've sold raffle tickets, and done these poker fundraisers, and it's a ton of work. They spend literally hundreds of hours raising money for the firework show," Orion Township Supervisor Chris Barnett said.
LOFA will make banners of the highest-level sponsors, which will be hung around township baseball fields and other locations.
"If someone is going to give $5,000 for a sign and I can put it on one of my baseball fields, it's a no brainer," Barnett said. "When you have a group of people that are spending hundreds of hours to put on this firework show, and they come to me asking for support, we're going to support them."
Also a new feature this year is the Princess.
The Princess Cruise Boat will be trolling Lake Orion on the 4th, and if enough individuals are interested, LOFA will give a price for a dinner, shuttle and boat ride.
"That'll be the place where I think I'll be so I can get right underneath them," Cyrwoski said.