Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Son Steve is on left with his Cousins (ckockwise) Joe, Sam, Eric And Laurie. Photo is from Barbara Posted by Picasa

Saturday, July 01, 2006

A crisis for a president

Mike reminded me of a traumatic episode.

In the early 1960's I was program chairman for the Marcus Whitman Kiwanis Club of Walla Walla. Part of my duties was to come up with an idea for a fund raiser.

Prior to leaving on a vacation I presented some alternatives of packaged shows like Donkey baseball or Globetrotters, etc. I don't remember which was chosen but a vote was taken and action was to begin.

When I returned from vacation I found that the format had completely changed. A professional producer had been hired, we had leased Borleske Field for the Fourth of July and we were going to develope our our own patriotic show featuring fireworks at the end. Very little expense as all entertainment except the fireworks was to be volunteer.

The fireworks were a bargain at $1200. The marching band from Wenatchee had stayed together for the summer because of a schedule of public appearances. There was no charge if you didn,t consider the fact that we had to overnite 60 people at a hotel and pick up the tab for feeding all those teenagers. A couple of professional acts were booked just to maintain spectator attention. Etc.

Advertising, ticket printing etc, etc. As I explained to a meeting of the local Lions Club.

I know you guys have your own projects but 16 of us are underwriting a buget of $20,000.00.
I'm scared to death. Please help us out anyway you can.

I must report that the Lions turned out for the show en mass. Each one sought me out and shook my hand saying he was there in response to my plea.

The KIwanis Old Fashioned Fourth of July Show and Fireworks Display was an overwhelming success. The stands were designed for 2500. The crowd was estimated at close to four thousand. At dusk skyrockets caused oohs and aahs and beautiful set pieces glowed in patriotic themes.

Next year the Fourth arrived. I was president. Based on the previous years success we scheduled a reprise bigger and better. Fireworks $2200.00.

I was given an introductory speech script and told not to deviate from the exact wording. I was so nervious I would err that I could discern a tremor in my voice through the loudspeaker system.

The show began. The band played. The Lions Club Chorale belted out acapella barber shop favorites. The tumblers did their flips.

Dusk arrived and all prepared for the fireworks display. Discreet flashlite beams were seen at the far side of the field as the crew awaited full darkness.

A rocket fired arching into the sky and at its apex a loud boom indicating a beginning to the fireworks portion of the show.

Then another boom and a series of crackling noises. This was not part of the plan. Someone had thrown a lighted object into one of the boxes of fireworks and a chain reaction caused all of the combustables to ignite over about a two minute span.

The crowd was dazed. As president, with great trepidation as to what I would find I charged into the wall of smoke that covered the large football field. As I reached the far side, the crew had counted noses and determined all were accounted for. They were already policing up the mess.

I thought I should make some announcement but the crowd was quietly filing out.

One of our club members, Dan Reeder, who was helping with fireworks suffered some trauma from schock but fortunatey no one was injured.

That was the last Kiwanis Old Fashioned Forth of July Show and Fireworks display.