Fireworks donations meet goal

Published 8:45 pm Saturday, June 5, 2010

The skies over Albert Lea will be lit up again on July 4, thanks to community donations totaling more than $16,000.

The annual fireworks fundraiser, organized by the Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce and KATE/KCPI Radio, had volunteers with buckets on the corners of Broadway Avenue and Main Street collecting donations starting at 6 a.m. Friday. By 4 p.m., $16,426 had been raised.

The fundraiser got off to a fast start. By 10:30 a.m. the effort was over the halfway point with $9,469 collected. Included in that total was the largest corporate donation — from Minnesota Corrugated Box — of $3,500. Employees there contributed another $1,100.

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“They are one of our biggest supporters,” Chamber Operations Manager Tami Riecke said of Minnesota Corrugated Box. “Dick Krebsbach was a huge supporter, and after his passing, the new leadership has decided to continue to support the fireworks.”

In past years, the fireworks fundraiser goal has been $15,000. Riecke said the goal was raised this year because the contract with the fireworks company changed.

“Everybody knew times were tough,” Riecke said of being apprehensive of asking for more.

“I think some people gave a little less than they might normally give, but I think more people gave,” Riecke said.

She admits she was a little nervous in the early afternoon, when things slowed down. “But it always slows down, then gets busy again,” she said.

“We are very, very happy. How can you not be proud to live in Albert Lea and Freeborn County?” she asked.

Chamber Executive Director Randy Kehr said it was all about the community coming together. Many businesses came by with food and beverages for the volunteers on the street corners and under the broadcast tent.

He said he enjoyed seeing people challenge each other to donate. The plumbers had a challenge, as did downtown business owners, insurance agents and even grandmothers. One grandmother dropped off a check for $18 — $1 for each of her grandchildren — and urged others to do the same. Many did.

Riecke said one 14-year-old girl, who has been saving her pennies and bringing them to the fireworks fundraiser since she was very small, came again with a bag of coins.

Kehr said the whole day was enjoyable. “It’s so much fun to do this,” he said. “Kids bring in a donation, and a month later, they’re watching the fireworks. It’s neat they can say, ‘I helped buy this.’”