Village and Park District join to take over fourth of July festivities
Jim O'Connell towers above the younger cyclists in Northbrook's Fourth of July Decorated Bicycle Parade in 2012. | Dan Luedert~Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 1, 2013 6:10AM
NORTHBROOK — Members of Northbrook’s Village Board, meeting Tuesday as a committee of the whole, were “absolutely” in favor of taking over the Fourth of July festivities with the park district.
And the Northbrook Park District Board, which was meeting at the same time, but in another building, echoed their enthusiasm, said Ann Ziolkowski, the park district’s marketing director.
The Village and the Park Boards released a joint statement Wednesday saying that they authorized their staffs to work together to plan the festivities.
“Therefore, this year’s annual event celebrations will continue Thursday, July 4, with a full day of family fun as the Village of Northbrook and the Northbrook Park District step in to coordinate this year’s traditional festivities,” the press release said.
The volunteer Fourth of July Association that had handled the events for more than 40 years dissolved Jan. 23.
The all-volunteer, non-profit organization had found it increasingly difficult to sustain itself financially and with the manpower necessary to plan and execute the events, said Philip A. Kiraly, assistant village manager.
When the members discovered that they no longer had insurance and probably wouldn’t be able to get it, they voted to end the Association’s existence.
“People don’t understand that the Association did all this. They think the village does this anyway,” said Trustee Todd Heller.
Kiraly noted that the village had donated $20,000 toward the fireworks in 2011 and 2012, which had cost $25,000 each of those years.
But the Association had spent $30,000 and $31,000 for the displays in the years before that. The fireworks were cut back because donations had declined, he added.
“Given the mild winter we’ve had, I suggest authorizing $30,000 to be taken out of regular funds for the fireworks,” said Village President Sandra Frum.
“This is the first time we’re doing this, so we should kick it off right. It’s the biggest day in Northbrook – the one day the community comes together,” added Trustee Michael Scolaro.
Last year marked the third year of a three-year contract with Melrose Pyrotechnics, Kiraly said.
He suggested that the village sign a one-year contract with the company, since it is probably too late to find another vendor, and go out for bids next year.
The parade costs are about $15,000, all of which the Association paid from contributions. And the in-kind overtime costs to the Village for police, fire and public works employees totaled $15,278 last year, he added.
The Rotary is interested in handling the pancake breakfast, but hasn’t reached a decision yet, Kiraly said.
If the Rotary decides against it, the Village can keep the sponsorship available for another organization, he added.
Trustee Kathryn Ciesla suggested that the village adopt a fundraising idea used in Highland Park that benefits School District 112.
The city’s regular vehicle sticker costs $40, but residents who want to support the school district may add an additional $30 or more for a special sticker, which signifies that they are special backers of the district. This has raised $35,000 a year for the last few years, Ciesla said.
“The park staff members are looking forward to collaborating with the village and happy that we can continue the tradition, but we also realize that this will take a good deal of support from the community in many ways,” Ziolkowski said.
“We will be looking into voluntary recruitment and setting up a website. We are at the very early stages of figuring this out.”
Kiraly proposed that the Village and the Park District sign an inter-governmental agreement to formalize their partnership.
“Staff suggests that 2013 be viewed as a ‘bridge year,’ where a joint Village and Park District staff team works together to handle the Fourth of July events,” he added.
“Based on our shared experience, the staff team can make recommendations to our respective Boards as to how to proceed for future events.”