Chamber begins annual fundraising for the city’s Fourth of July fireworks

Published 6:26 am Saturday, May 18, 2024

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By Ayanna Eckblad

It was a beautiful and sunny morning for volunteers of the Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce as they stood on the corners of Main Street and Broadway to raise money for the city’s annual fireworks display.

The volunteers’ yellow fluorescent vests made them difficult to miss as car drivers and passengers stopped to drop some cash or a check into the specially designated bucket.

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Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Shari Sprague said the total cost of the fireworks display this year is around $20,000. The first shift of volunteers were able to collect $1,148 from 8 to 10 a.m. Sprague said by the end of the day they had collected a little more than $7,000.

The change in the fireworks location this year is one thing chamber members had to consider while raising money, noting that not everyone was happy with the new change. The location was changed this spring in order to keep in compliance with state safety guidelines.

“Honestly, I was nervous about it,” Sprague said. “I know people aren’t excited about the change.”

However, she said she has been pleasantly surprised at the support the chamber has received in donating to the fireworks. She also said it is difficult to gauge how well fundraising is going compared to other years as it is still early in the process.

“We’ll never stop fundraising for this, but we’re very pleased with what we’ve received. And the feedback we’re getting from the community is positive,” she said.

Several of the people collecting donations have been doing so for over a decade. Chamber of Commerce ambassadors Heather Lee, Brenda Reed and Kevin LaFrance each have 12 years of experience collecting for the fireworks fundraiser.

“It really is for a good cause. The fireworks are awesome,” LaFrance said.

He added they’re always looking for more donations to cover any funding gaps and help keep the event possible.

Sprague said she hopes that the community continues to support the city’s fireworks display and helps them reach their monetary goal for the year.