With only a little under two weeks until the 61st annual Shelter Island fireworks show, fundraising efforts are still under way.
A rite of passage for children and a beloved tradition for adults, the annual pyrotechnics caps off a leisurely day of beaching, barbecuing with family and friends on Crescent Beach under the light-splashed night sky.
But as July 7 approaches, organizers of the event want the community members to know that the show is a 100 percent donor-supported event and its organizers have yet to reach their goal. The display used to be sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce, but in March 2015 the organization announced that it could no longer afford to foot the bill. Fearing a nearly six decade-long tradition would come to an end, Island residents Brett and Kelly Surerus, Carla Cadzin and James Richardson started a GoFundMe page and created Shelter Island Fireworks, Inc. — now an official nonprofit 501(c)(3).
The organizers received a torrent of support from Islanders and were able to raise the money for the 2015 show within a very short period of time and have run the event every year since then. This year the group is at it again and while grateful for the assistance they’ve received from donors, Ms. Surerus admits that the task of fundraising has proved more challenging than it has in years past.
“When we first took this on, we were able to get the money pretty quickly, but now there are a lot of things going on locally and globally that people are donating to, so donations are down,” she said. “To raise another $20,000 would put us in a great place.”
The group has organized a number of exciting fundraising events, including a cocktail party at Sunset Beach June 23 which raised nearly $6,000. Next Friday, July 6, they will throw a fireworks pre-party at The Shipwreck Bar at the Island Boatyard from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., that will offer a barbecue, raffles and live music by The Realm to kick off the festivities.
“We’re expecting 200 people. It’s definitely one of the most fun nights of the summer,” Ms. Surerus added about the pre-party.
Ms. Surerus said this year’s fireworks display will be “a little smaller than last year’s because that show marked the 60th year anniversary,” but will still be a full 15 minutes long and have a “great finale.”
She is especially grateful for the partnership of Fireworks by Grucci, the internationally recognized company that has provided the Island with breathtaking shows for many years.
“It’s such an unbelievable company, so we look forward to working with them again,” Ms. Surerus said. “They’ve always been so supportive of what we do,”
She expressed her devotion to the annual fireworks show and what it symbolizes for the Shelter Island community.
“It’s such an awesome Island event,” Ms. Surerus said. “I think it means a lot to the community that it continues on, so even though it’s not easy, we somehow always manage to get by. Just seeing everyone from 2 to 92 sitting on the beach together — and when you look down the beach and see all the faces lit up by the fireworks — it captures the essence of what Shelter Island is all about.”
The fireworks are scheduled to begin at 9 p.m. at Crescent Beach on Saturday, July 7.