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Weather delays Brandon fireworks



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Neil Murphy (center) squirts water at Joe Tuski (far right) and Clinton Ivory, who aim back from a classic fire truck during the Hadley July 4 parade. Photos by Patrick McAbee. (click for larger version)
July 06, 2011 - Brandon Twp.- A line of storms that sprang up on July 2 put a damper on the planned Ortonville fireworks. Further confusion arose over the rain date, but ultimately, the show must go on, and did— the next night.

"There was a mix-up, but we had a great fireworks show, no one got hurt, and all in all, it was a great evening," said Fire Chief Dave Kwapis.

A stormfront that came from the west side of the state was responsible for the cancellation of the show put on by Wolverine Fireworks Company at a cost of $6,000. The Ortonville Area Chamber of Commerce collects donations every year to provide the show for the community.

Kwapis said he had been watching the weather radar all day and saw nothing until between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.

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"I was in contact with the fireworks company throughout the day and everything was looking good," he said. "There was no warning for these storms, they just popped."

As the first storm approached, Wolverine workers rushed to cover the fireworks, already set up behind Chase Bank,761 Ortonville Road, with tarps. However, strong winds lifted the tarps and some of the fireworks got wet. It still appeared that the show would go on as planned, because after the first storm passed, a couple damp fireworks were tested and everything seemed fine. As the workers got everything ready again, another cloud appeared and this time, the fireworks weren't covered fast enough.

Wolverine Fireworks, concerned about safety with the wet fireworks, pulled the plug on that night's show. The rain date, which had been announced by the Chamber of Commerce as July 4, was an error.

"Long story short, there was a change in the contract from the fireworks company after we sent a check into them and the information was not passed along to anyone," Kwapis said. "There was some confusion on the initial document sent to us, the rain date was July 4. On the actual contract received back, it was July 3, and we didn't receive the information until after it was published, with no time to correct it."

Kwapis and the Chamber of Commerce used Facebook, phone calls, and an e-mail blast to notify residents and businesses of the moved up rain date, as well as putting the information on the marquee of Frosty Boy.

"Our turnout ws great for the methods we used to get the word out," Kwapis said. "The Chamber of Commerce has learned a lot of lessons from this and will make every attempt to keep such a mix-up from happening in the future."

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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