Second year for fireworks display fundraising drive

Chuck Stahl and Lucas Mayes are hoping to raise at least $6,000 for Wahpeton's Fourth of July fireworks. As of Wednesday, they had raised $460, with more contributions expected. Wahpeton Parks and Recreation has said every penny raised will go directly toward this year’s fireworks display.

Lucas Mayes and Chuck Stahl hope that when Twin Towns Area residents see the annual Fourth of July fireworks, they feel a sense of ownership for the event.

The second annual “Light up the Sky on the 4th of July” drive to fund a community fireworks event recently launched. There are numerous ways to contribute, Mayes and Stahl said: on the official event page on Facebook, with an upcoming link at Helping Out Wherever (HOW)’s Facebook page and by giving donations at Wahpeton City Hall.

Stahl and Mayes are hoping to raise at least $6,000. As of 3:45 p.m. Wednesday, May 5, they had raised $460, with more contributions expected. The organizers have talked to Wahpeton Parks and Recreation, which said every penny raised will go directly toward this year’s fireworks display.

“We’ve talked about matching the first $500 through our organization, HOW, and through our company, Ambitiously Lazy Apparel,” Mayes said. “We’re hoping that will kickstart things a little further.”

The first annual Light up the Sky campaign was held in 2020, the year of the COVID-19 pandemic, social distancing and funding uncertainty. Mayes and Stahl understand that 2021 is its own year, with different attitudes, but also enduring ideas.

“People are out and about now. We know they still want to go see the show, to watch and say, ‘This is me showing my sense of freedom’ and to take pride in that,” Mayes said.

“You see the shows and when you’ve given, you think, ‘Hey, I contribute to this.’ We’re part of this. The towns put it together with a sense of unity,” Stahl said.

“A sense of community,” Mayes said.

From unique circumstances came a unique celebration, Daily News reported in July 2020. The annual Wahpeton-Breckenridge, Minnesota baseball game at John Randall Field included Breckenridge beating Wahpeton, 7-3. For many, audience members were the real winners. They followed social distancing guidelines and had a holiday worth remembering.

“I could see down the right field line that the crowd was at roughly two-thirds the capacity it normally would be. I was amazed by the people who were standing by their cars,” Wahpeton Park Board Commissioner Joe Schreiner recalled. “They were essentially tailgating. There were a lot of people in the parking lots.”

For years, Corey “Unny” Unruh has provided fireworks for Wahpeton events. Stahl and Mayes are appreciate of those who have contributed to or otherwise supported Light up the Sky.

“Last year, we were on the verge of not having Fourth of July fireworks, then they tell us that more money was raised than ever before,” Stahl said. “Social media is huge. We just want to spread this idea through however it can be reached.”

One of Light up the Sky’s recurring contributors, Mayes said, is a friend he met through playing softball in Fergus Falls, Minnesota. The friend doesn’t even live in the Twin Towns Area, he’s just eager to help out for the community’s cause.

“Even if people don’t know where Wahpeton is, they know what we’re trying to do,” Stahl said.

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