By Luke Steere
PEPPERELL -- Sparklers at the rotary is a far cry from Pepperell's usual offering of fireworks for the Fourth of July.
But each year, Pepperell Fourth of July Committee President Carol Gates fears that's what the ceremony may get whittled down to. The big bang and long parade from this small town comes with a price tag of $32,000. As of last week, and with only a month and half to go, they only have about half that.
"It isn't just the parade, this committee works year-round to make that one event possible," Gates said.
Entertainers need to be hired, police details scheduled and EMTs scheduled, Dumpsters and bathroom facilities rented, all before they even consider shopping for a $10,000 fireworks display. Gates says that usually by this time of year, the gap isn't so big.
"We canceled the golf tournament because of lack of interest, traditionally that event pulls in between $5,000 to $9,000 dollars," she said.
So the Fourth of July Committee got creative. This year, their annual Poop-a-palooza event is going to feature a carnival. Squares for cow patty bingo are $5. They also have about 75 vendor spaces left for interested businesses going for $25 apiece.
"That event is always popular because it is for adults and kids, but it is weather dependent," Gates said.
The weekend of the last carnival, the weather cooperated, but in the past rain
"We've got a good group of people who won't sleep until July 8," she said. "Some are 24/7 committed and take days off of work and others don't have that luxury, but are giving every spare moment they have.
The amount of events they do each year is a lot of planning for eight people, Gate added. But it doesn't take much more than time commitment. Anyone with an idea or will to help out can help.
"I didn't have a whole lot going on, and I see Carol a lot, so I began helping out," Pepperell resident Courtney Januskiewiecz said.
Her husband Anthony is a private in the Army and is currently stationed in Germany.
"He finished in Afghanistan and went there next, so being involved with this has been beneficial with Anthony away," she said.
10 from 1,000, a campaign to get $10 from 1,000 families, is something Carol, Courtney and other Fourth of July Committee members have been pushing for funding as well. This is the third year they have done it with a steady increase of participation. Last year, around 100 families sent in forms.
"It's great to see such good local support, especially since it's not just a Pepperell event," Gates said before naming off towns including Westford, New Ipswich, N.H., Hollis, N.H., and even Jaffrey, N.H., from which people come year after year for the celebration.
"Towns and cities end up doing their events on staggered days so the fourth has become a bigger thing, people do a lot of town-hopping," she said. "When we walk through the crowd during the fireworks, it's hard trying not to step on fingers and blankets."
And all that attendance is what's important, Gates said. Come July 8, the Fourth of July Committee will be collecting donations at the event they have made possible.
"That money is what we roll into next year to keep the festivities going," Gates said.
Tickets and vendor spaces are available through Gates, and can be bought at Advantage Automotive at 117 Main St. T-shirts can also be purchased there and at McNabbs General Store, Pepperell Famly Pharmacy and Family Tree Daycare. Proceeds from shirt sales go to support the event also.
For information on how to support the parade or get involved with the committee, email Pepperell4thofjulycommittee@yahoo.com.
Follow Luke Steere at twitter.com/lsnashobapub.