February 06, 2013 - Lake Orion's annual July 4 fireworks show was nearly a fizzle this year.
That was until the Lake Orion Village Council voted last month to not require the all-volunteer Lake Orion Fireworks Association to pay for cleanup and police services during the event.
Members of the Fireworks Association threatened to disband and not support the annual display, which attracts thousands to the area around Lake Orion.
Carl Cyrowski, president of the fireworks association, said Village Manager Paul Zelenak, police Chief Jerry Narsh and several business leaders held a meeting several weeks ago in which he was told that they wanted the fireworks committee to provide money for cleanup and police services.
Cyrowski said he strongly objected to their proposal
"The gist of the meeting was that they all felt that the Fireworks Association should take responsibility for cleaning up the mess left by the crowd who watches the fireworks in the village and pay for the extra police protection they say is required," Cyrowski said.
"Some of the property owners at this meeting said that people viewing the fireworks trampled their property as well as harassed their employees who were trying to keep them off their property and maintain order. This is not the first time over the years that I have been approached by the Village to have our committee clean up after the display or pay for additional police to handle the crowds and traffic in the area. We have always maintained that the fireworks committee, through considerable effort, raises a considerable amount of money to pay for the display that benefits the vast majority of our community."
Cyrowski said he believes there are many businesses that benefit from the annual fireworks and that his organization has raised money every year since 1990 and sees no financial gain from the event.
"I told this group that we felt that we do more than our fair share for the community and that they should go to the businesses or whoever else benefits from the event including the Downtown Development Authority to do the cleanup and pay for the extra police."
Cyrowski said members of the fireworks committee discussed the demands and decided to either stop raising money for a fireworks show or move the show outside of the village. The price for the professional show by Wolverine Fireworks is about $30,000.
Cyrowski said his arguments did not seem persuasive and so the question was put before the village council for a vote.
Several members of the fireworks association attended the meeting and there was extensive discussion about whether the fireworks association should be responsible for the cleanup.
"We believe our work is done when the fireworks are done," Cyrowski said.
"We start early in the year and run right up to the display. We have to order early and work toward paying for it."
The village council agreed the fireworks association should not be responsible for cleanup and voted unanimously to not require them to pay for police services or cleanup.
Zelenak said the village is now seeking groups and organizations in the community that would be willing to help with the cleanup following the event.
"Maybe we can get Waste Management to donat some things to put trash in. We need groups to volunteer to help," he said.
Meanwhile, the fundraising to fund the Independence Day event is underway.
There are Poker Nights scheduled from Tuesday, February 12 through Friday, February 15, at 5 Star Lanes, 2666 Metropolitan Pkwy in Sterling Heights.
Those wanting to help with the Fireworks Association fundraisers or to learn more can go to lakeorionfireworks.org.
Former Leader Editor Dan Shriner will cover Wildcat football this season.