BY SCOTT ISENMAN
While Independence Day is a day to celebrate our nation, its history and its values, and our Grand Old Fourth celebration typifies the best of what “community” should mean, I would like to take a moment, as the “lead” of the group that organizes the fireworks display, to share the cross-section of “community” that I get to see in my capacity.
Our “organization” is just a small group of individuals, all volunteering their time, energy and expertise to a modest goal – a 15-minute fireworks display costing about $25,000. The group consists of individuals with a variety of backgrounds and reasons they feel this effort is worth their time, but all ultimately devoting their precious time for the good of the community, not because any of them directly benefits from this in any way.
We have local merchants (Lee Jorgenson of San Carlos, Karin Lehotsky of Lollipops, Cyndi and Brian Moody of The Madison Diner), Cheryl House (a retiree with military background and connections), myself and my wife, and Tim Longley and Melanie Petit who just want to make a difference. And let us not forget our harbormaster, Tami Allen, who joined us this year to facilitate many of the complexities of staging this event on the water of our own harbor!
Every one of these individuals should be acknowledged and praised for their efforts to benefit our community. This is the core group, directly dedicated to the mission.
What is truly inspiring is the support we find as we go out into the community to request assistance. This is where I am profoundly impressed. We certainly appreciate and thank every one of our monetary donors, individual and businesses — we absolutely need you and your support or this could not happen.
But there are so many others that support us in non-monetary ways: from Bainbridge Disposal who provides dumpsters at Pritchard Park (because we know our display attracts revelers who will generate refuse), to an individual (Marsh Terry) who loaned us a portable AM broadcast transmitter for the soundtrack and his daughter (Morgan Terry) who consulted with technical aspects of creating a broadcast. And our marine electrician, John Wilton, who installed the transmitter on our boat to provide a water-borne base of technical operations. Also Eric Parker of Research Support Services provides his landing craft and his time and fuel to shuttle the fireworks from shore to the barge. A huge thank you to Mac ‘N Jack’s Island Service not only for their monetary support, but allowing spectators to use their parking lot every year for overflow parking. All these individuals were willing to step-up and provide their support just because it was the right thing to do.
It goes even further:
When our pyrotechnician was in distress trying to load the materials for the show onto the shuttle, the residents of Sunday Cove offered their marina on the spot in order to make the show happen. This was not planned or pre-arranged, just community members stepping up for the common good.
And finally after all was said and done (and the smoke had cleared), we make a good-faith effort early on the morning of July 5 to clean up any debris on the beach at Pritchard Park. As I was out at the far point, having left my cart and garbage bags far up the beach I looked back down the beach and saw probably a half-dozen individuals and families who were pitching in and picking up trash.
As I walked down the beach, trying to thank each one assuming they had heard our call for volunteers for the effort, I came to find that, to every last one of them, none had seen the request, but upon arriving at the beach and seeing the need (and the garbage bags!) they spontaneously pitched in and started picking up trash, not because they had been there the night before and had created the mess, but just because it was the right thing to do. (And in talking to them, found out that they were all dog walkers and that this was nothing special for them. They do it regularly, because they appreciate where we are privileged to live and want to protect it in any way they can. So a big shout-out to the dog-walkers of Pritchard Park!
I wanted to share this, not because I think it is necessarily unique, but rather because I believe it is a common occurrence in our community, and unless people are fortunate enough to get the perspective I have in my role, they may not be aware of how common it is. Amongst all of the rancor we often see in other aspects of our society and in the news, there still exists an undercurrent of caring and giving and sacrifice we rarely get to acknowledge or celebrate, but should. This is what we should use to define us, rather than the divisions that often separate us.
If this does not typify what is best in our society, and a way to honor our country, I don’t know what does.
Thank you, Bainbridge Island! We hope you enjoyed the show, because you made it what it was!
Scott Isenman is project manager/president of Bainbridge Fireworks.