Sponsor drops Portage Fourth of July fireworks event

Kalamazoo and Battle Creek

Photos provided by Rotary Club of Portage President Thomas Welsh show the 2019 Fourth of July celebration at Ramona Park.

PORTAGE, Mich. (WOOD) — The fate of a Fourth of July tradition in Portage is up in the air after losing a longtime sponsor.

The Rotary Club of Portage announced Wednesday it will no longer fund and oversee the city’s annual fireworks display.

Portage Rotary Club President Tom Welsh told News 8 the decision came after a series of meetings over the past month with the Portage Parks and Recreation Department, and was based on rising costs and no proper venue.

Portage Public Schools opted out of hosting the fireworks display this year out of fear the embers could damage the artificial turf on Portage Central’s new McCamley Field.

A Sept. 11, 2019 photo shows Portage Central’s new McCamley Field.

The festivities moved to Ramona Park, but both the rotary club and city later concluded the park “does not adequately provide for a safe event.”

Welsh said after this year’s fireworks display, it took nearly two hours for everyone to get out of the parking lot.

Additionally, the club said its revenues couldn’t match the rising cost of the fireworks display, which was expected to increase nearly 50% because the group would need to get a new vendor.

Welsh said the club wanted to announce the change early enough to allow someone to possibly step up and save the Fourth of July tradition.

Portage Rotary sponsored the Independence Day celebration for 13 years. Welsh said the group adopted the event about three years after the Kiwanis Club stopped sponsoring the display.

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