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Final funding push for Lake Murray festival

By Doug Curlee | Editor at Large

July 4 event still short of its goal

The on-again, off-again saga of Fourth of July fireworks at Lake Murray are apparently back on again, but there are “ifs” involved.

The fireworks went away in 2012, after a 2011 lawsuit against them was filed by an environmental group upset about setting off fireworks over water — especially over water that is to become drinking water.

Since then, all of those legal questions have been answered, the lawsuit has been resolved and now the road is clear to once again put on the popular event.

“We’re good to go legally”, said Tracy Dalkamp, the leader of the effort to reinstitute the afternoon-long music festival and fireworks show.

The Lake Murray Fireworks and Musicfest committee: (l to r) Owen Dahlkamp, Melissa DeMarco, Gil Koury, Tracy Dahlkamp, Diane Sipe, Robert Hotz, Jay Wilson, and Brandy Kern (Photo by Jeff Clemetson)

“What the big ‘if’ is now is, can we raise the money to make it the event we want to put on for the community? We want to put on a day’s entertainment of music, food, refreshments and everything else such a party needs to have to be a success. What we don‘t want to do is just have a 15-minute fireworks display and call it good. Right now, we’ve raised enough money to take care of a few expenses, but we’re way short of what we need to put on the full afternoon.”

There are a number of fees the organizers need to take care of — things like the bill for police and fire and public safety officials to be there from both San Diego and La Mesa. There’ll be port-a-potty rentals to pay for, and a host of other expenses. Paying bands who play will eat up a lot of money.

As of this writing, the committee has raised a little over $56,000 for the effort. That’s a nice little total, but it won’t pay for the whole event. Despite the enormous generosity of those major donors, the operational budget the committee has come up with — to do the festival the right — way is $76,000.

There has been pretty good support from businesses and companies in the San Carlos-Del Cerro-Allied gardens area so far, and more is hoped for. There are several levels of business sponsorship. Star sponsors who donate $500 will appear on the event website and receive a certificate of sponsorship.

Liberty Sponsors who donate $1,000 will, in addition to the same rewards as the Star Sponsors, also be promoted in print materials, be verbally recognized at the event and promoted on social media.

Freedom sponsors who donate $2,500, get all the same perks as the other levels plus a space at the festival to place a large banner near the music stage and a space for company presence.

American sponsors who donate $7,000, get all the perks as the other sponsors plus a VIP viewing area and a reserved parking space.

Major donors so far include Stormberg Orthodontics (who is the title sponsor for the event), FBS Property Management, Precision Concrete Designs, High Dive San Diego and Windmill Farms and Life Deck. Other major donors include Orchard Supply Hardware and Ideal Plumbing.

Although business sponsors are starting to come in, unless a more substantial amount is raised in the fairly near future, the whole effort may be doomed, or at least scaled back dramatically.

Dalkamp, for one, is not willing to sign contracts until the money is actually in the bank.

“I wouldn’t be comfortable signing anything just hoping the money will come in to make those checks good,” she said.

She believes people will come through with donations to make up a lot of the shortfall, because a lot of people have really missed the Fourth of July at the lake, and will be willing to help guarantee its return.

But heartfelt faith and belief isn’t negotiable at the bank.

Volunteers are going through the communities, passing out fliers with return envelopes asking people to donate, which has so far raised around $3,000. And on April 22, local sports is getting in on the donation action.

“The board at San Carlos Little League and Navajo Softball have unanimously agreed to donate 50 percent of the [Lake Murray ballfield] snack bar earnings from this Saturday, April 22 to the Lake Murray Fireworks and Musicfest event,” wrote San Carlos Little League president Sheila Gigante in an email to festival organizers. “It’s also closing day for Navajo so we expect it to be pretty crowded at the lake. We will also plan to put collection jars on the counters for anyone who’s not interested in buying at the snack bar.”

There are also other ways to contribute. The website, lakemurrayfireworks.org, offers a form to make your donation, and there is a GoFundMe page at gofundme.com/lakemurrayfireworks. All donations are tax deductible and are processed by the San Carlos Lake Murray Recreation Council.

Where all this will wind up is an open question right now. The committee will meet again in mid-May to assess where they stand with the effort.

That may be the pivotal decision time.

No one is quitting on this — the fireworks were always popular in the past, and they may be again. But the final decision will be up to the result of that constant obstacle:

Show me the money.

For more information about the event, visit lakemurrayfireworks.org.

—Doug Curlee is Editor at Large. Reach him at doug@sdcnn.com.

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