CRESWELL – With no one yet to organize the July Fourth Celebration, the City of Creswell is exploring its options while encouraging residents to help keep the tradition alive.
Council members at Monday’s work session considered what their role should be during events – especially since the Creswell Chamber of Commerce, which traditionally oversees the holiday events, does not have enough board members to function this year and has left the Fourth of July ball alone at mid-court.
A better suitor for the job is a local nonprofit made up of community members, city manager Michelle Amberg said.
“What happens in most communities is a nonprofit group forms that takes over these events,” Amberg said. “We do have Creswell First! – a nonprofit that could take tax deductible donations for these kinds of events – but we really would benefit to have a group of concerned citizens who really just love the Fourth of July to come together and create a July Fourth group that would put this on,” Amberg said.
The biggest events – the parade and the fireworks – are surrounded by question marks.
Amberg is in discussions with the Creswell School District about three options for fireworks: a traditional event where people can sit on the school’s property; drive-up viewing in which people sit in the school parking lots; or no public attendance allowed.
One-time event insurance for the fireworks at the school district can cost between $15,000 and $20,000, and the City would pay an additional $1,000 if it were to host the event. Add in the additional events, “as much as I love fireworks, our veterans and America ... we are quickly getting up to about a $30,000 price tag,” councilor Shelley Clark said.
Though the district is “lukewarm” about hosting the fireworks due to Covid liability issues, Amberg said the latter option seems most plausible and will continue the discussion with the district.
“We are allowed to eat in restaurants, shops, and do all sorts of stuff, but we can’t rely on Creswell to be adult enough to maintain a three-foot distance while we’re watching fireworks?” councilor Joe Medina asked.
“I would not guarantee anyone’s behavior anywhere, but I wish I could,” Amberg said, clarifying that the three-foot protocol is for children, and that the rule is still six feet for adults as per state guidelines. “We can’t keep (participants) out of the street for the parade without having security walking up and down and telling them to stay back.”
Amberg is researching alternate locations to put on the fireworks, such as Emerald Valley Golf Course, Garden Lake Park or Bald Knob, though she noted that all those locations could pose safety and traffic concerns.
Chances are slim that the City could host a parade.
“I just can’t come up with any good news about the parade,” Amberg said. “There are a lot of logistical issues associated with the parade that make it a very complex activity.”
Amberg said the Rhododendron Festival in Florence was canceled, but is moving forward with a car show, and suggested Creswell could do something similar.
A car club could host a car show, either at a city property or on private property. “We could help promote it, but we wouldn’t run it.”
Despite these challenges and the unknown, the City and some community members are taking bites out where they can.
RAIN is partnering with the local business community to host a food and activity fair. The group is meeting on March 25 to discuss details. So far, participating businesses include Blue Valley Bistro, Pazzo, Creswell Wellness Center, Crippen Design, Farmlands and The Chronicle. It would be low-cost for the City – less than $1,000 – Amberg said, noting that it could provide custom masks for people going from vendor to vendor.
The City is considering hosting contests throughout town, such as a home-decorating contest, a pet contest and sidewalk art contests. “Contests are really simple … the cost is very minimal, but we need judges, prizes, categories and a way to collect who is going to participate.” It would cost the City about $4,000 to put on these contests.
Activities at Hobby Field airport, such as the jet flyover, static airplane displays, an aerobatic display with smoke and Young Eagle flights are still being considered, though the council raised concerns about it being a typical day off for airport manager Shelley Humble. It would cost the City less than $2,000.
“As far as what the city’s participation should be as far as these events … I had never really thought about all those costs. As we’re talking about all this stuff here I’m trying to be forward-thinking about how we’re going to do things in the future, too, because maybe we really need to make adjustments,” councilor Kevin Prociw said.
“It’s a huge volunteer effort,” Amberg said. “It needs to be recognized and celebrated that for years and years people in our community have been doing this under the guise of the Chamber of Commerce. It would be great if folks could organize themselves and create a Creswell Fourth of July committee and keep this going … if the City could do anything, it is to help organize that group if that’s what’s needed.”
The discussion continues at the April 12 city council meeting.
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