HARVARD -- Contrary to popular belief, the Harvard Independence Day celebration is not funded by town government.
Rather, T-shirts, which are now on sale at the Harvard General Store and at the transfer station on Saturdays, are important fuel to fund the fireworks display scheduled to shoot off over Fruitlands Museum at dusk on Tuesday, July 3.
The next day, the volunteer Fourth of July Committee pulls another rabbit out of the hat with a hometown Independence Day parade followed by field day events for all ages in the field aside the Bromfield School. To say that the committee works a lot of magic with a little bit of money is an understatement.
"We're battling a widespread misconception that the town provides money for the Fourth of July event," said Fourth of July Committee Co-Chair Amy Stoller, who shares the leadership duties with Sandra Kimball.
Adult-sized T-shirts are being sold for $18 each, children's T-shirts are $16 each, and long sleeve adult-sized shirts are $22 each.
To pull off the two-day event, the Fourth of July Committee is working this year with a $12,000 budget.
The committee is made up completely of volunteers and 100 percent of the funding for fireworks, bands, parade, and field events is raised by T-shirt sales, parking fees, and donations from businesses and individuals. Fruitlands Museum donates its space to host the fireworks show, band concert and parking for the event.
"We're barely scraping by, so
The T-shirts have a secondary benefit. Any carload containing a person wearing the 2012 Harvard Fourth of July T-shirt gets half-price parking at Fruitlands Museum. That means entry for all vehicle occupants for $10 instead of the full $20 parking fee.
Beyond that, the T-shirts are colorful and have become a piece of the fabric of the community, with T-shirts from different years surfacing throughout the summer months.
"Two years ago we had a 'vintage' shirt sale where we sold the leftover shirts from previous years. People were really excited about it because it gave them a chance to get the shirts for the years that they had missed," said Stoller. "It's a fun tradition for many families in town to have a complete collection. I remember selling shirts and listening to shoppers share stories from years past and debate their favorite T-shirt designs as they searched through the inventory."
This year's T-shirt sports the five Olympic rings and torch on the back, with different Fourth of July designs in each ring, like a decorated tricycle, fireworks, the American flag, a pie, and an apple. The T-shirts were designed by Bromfield students Maya Grant and Hunter Siegrist. The theme for float entries in this year's parade is also the Summer Olympics.
"Like" the "Town of Harvard Fourth of July Celebration" on Facebook, and touch base with the Fourth of July Committee to volunteer to help during the parade and field day events. Stoller also expressed thanks to Fruitlands Museum, which again is providing the venue for the spectacular fireworks display over Prospect Hill, and to Roche Brothers supermarket, which is donating supplies for the field events, including eggs for the egg toss and pies for the pie eating contest.
The rain date for the fireworks is Friday, July 6.