By Brandi Makuski
Mayor Mike Wiza is looking to up the city’s fireworks game.
Stevens Point has for several years paid $10,000 for the same fireworks show at the annual Riverfront Rendezvous celebration. This year, according to Wiza, the fireworks vendor has increased its price for the same show.
“They’ve done us a favor by keeping the price the same [for] the past couple of years,” Wiza said. “But they can’t do that anymore, and they’re increasing the cost by $1,000 for the same show.”
Wiza added after seeing negative comments on social media sneering the city’s July fireworks, he wants the city to make an impression in 2017 and spend $15,000 on a “really great” fireworks show.
“We don’t have a lot of money,” Wiza said, “but what we do have is citizens who want to see something improved.”
Wiza said he looked to the Village of Plover’s example, which funds its popular $20,000 Celebrate Plover fireworks show entirely through private donations. With the help of City Treasurer Corey Ladick, he said, the city now has a GoFundMe page designed to take in donations from the public.
Wiza said the city is “in negotiations” for the new fireworks contract, and wants to raise $5,000 from the public, with the remaining $10,000 already in the city’s budget.
“We want to make sure people can contribute to help make Stevens Point fireworks in 2017 better than everyone else,” Wiza said.
As of 9 AM on March 2, $255 in donations had been made to the city’s GoFundMe account.
According to Parks Director Tom Schrader, the city already had a contract with the fireworks vendor for the $10,000 show, but is being rewritten at the mayor’s request.
“[The vendor] was over-ordering fireworks anyway, so when the mayor said, ‘Up it to $15,000,’ they said they’d just void the first contract and send us a new one,” Schrader said.
Riverfront Rendezvous has it’s own bank account, Schrader said, and any leftover funds are rolled over to help fund the following year’s festivities.
When asked if the account contained the extra $5,000 needed in the event fundraising efforts weren’t successful, Schrader said, “The mayor said he’d come up with the money; he said, ‘Don’t worry, we’ll raise it.'”
According to the expense report for the 2016 Riverfront Rendezvous provided by Ladick, the city had about $1,600 left from 2016 in its account.
“I’m looking to the citizens of Stevens Point to help make this year’s fireworks extraordinary,” Wiza said. “And if it doesn’t work out, we’ll go back to the same way we’ve done things. But I think we’ve got a lot of people who are motivated and want to see their community improve.”
The fireworks show will be held on Sunday, July 2.