Despite budget cuts that have forced cities throughout California to cancel their fireworks celebrations, Culver City is gearing up for their 45th Annual Fourth of July Fireworks Show through the volunteerism of the Culver City Exchange Club.
"It's a really classic American experience, and it would be next to impossible for the City to do it alone," said Scott Malsin, member of the City Council and the Culver City Exchange Club. "The tremendous commitment of volunteers adds a great deal to the community."
Playing an active role in Culver City for more than half a century, the Exchange Club provides both volunteer services to the city and spearheads fundraising opportunities for community-based organizations. The small group of 50 spends six months planning the fireworks celebration, and nearly 18 hours executing it the day-of—setting up flags and booths, building the stage for entertainers, and checking sound systems. Sam Feingold, a member of the Exchange Club for 19 years, said he always looks forward to the event--which will draw upwards of 12,000 this year.
"I work in parking, and I have this great hat. It's red, white, and blue and it has things coming out the top–so they can see me, and you really can't miss it. The whole day is a lot of fun."
However enjoyable the event may be, the fireworks show is also the main fundraiser for the Exchange Club, who donates all the event's proceeds (the show has a suggested donation of $2 for adults/$1 children) to charities and schools. Through last year's efforts, the organization was able to provide Culver City High School with a new artificial field turf and sound system. Principal Pam Magee said they needed to replace these items a long time ago, but due to budget restraints were unable to do so.
"It takes a lot of after-school candy sales and car washes to raise that kind of money," Magee said. "There are so many competing resources at the moment with pockets that need additional funds, that I am confident to say that we may not have been able to do it at all without their contribution."
Other community-based organizations that receive funding from the efforts of the Exchange Club include the Culver-Palms YMCA, Culver City Little League, Friends of the Culver City Youth Center, and the Culver City Senior Center.
The total cost for the show adds up to $24,000--which breaks down to nearly $1,000 a minute--with over 250 fireworks within 60 seconds. Malsin said that although the show was unable to expand due to lack of funding, it will nonetheless deliver the spectacle of years past. Despite the crunch, citizens revel in the celebration.
"It's not likely that we'll ever cancel the fireworks," Feingold said. "We raise so much and give it all back. It's for a good cause, and it will stay."
For more information, visit the Culver City Exchange Club website.