Cloquet Fourth fireworks in jeopardy

If funding isn't found fast, Cloquet's July 4 celebration this year may go off without the usual bang. "I wish we could say: 'Yes, the fireworks are on and sponsored by..." said Angela Korpela of the Cloquet Area Chamber of Commerce Tourism Commi...

If funding isn't found fast, Cloquet's July 4 celebration this year may go off without the usual bang.

"I wish we could say: 'Yes, the fireworks are on and sponsored by..." said Angela Korpela of the Cloquet Area Chamber of Commerce Tourism Committee. "But that's not yet the case."

For the past five years, the Fond du Lac Reservation Business Committee has sponsored a $7,000 fireworks show over Veterans Park in Cloquet. After donating last year, however, the band's governing body warned it most likely would be the last, according to event organizer Lisa Karulak. She did approach them earlier this year, just to be sure, and was officially turned down.

"The [Business Committee] cited the poor economy as one of the reasons, but we're so grateful to them for providing this for the community as long as they did," Karulak said.

The July 4 Veterans Celebration, including fireworks, was sponsored for years by the Cloquet VFW. When they decided to stop organizing it in 2003, Karulak took up the slack. She has been coordinating it nearly single-handedly ever since.


Drumming up the funds and help in the form of volunteers has always been a challenge, but this year, Karulak is nearly at her wit's end.

"We would love to be able to bring more into the day and make it a huge celebration," she said. "But with [the] lack of community support, it's hard to do everything we'd like to do. It's also hard to stand back and listen to the comments made about how 'lame' things are, after putting all you could into it."

This year, the approximately $2,500 Karulak has raised so far, which includes a heftier contribution from the tourism committee, is going toward daytime activities. The annual parade will take place on Cloquet Avenue at 11 a.m. followed by live music by local bands in Veterans Park and new this year, a family-friendly film in the park, "Alvin and the Chipmunks," starting sometime between 8-8:30 p.m. Food vendors and craft booths will also be in the park, with a inflatable moonwalk donated for the kids.

Karulak would also like to make the "Big Day Cloquet" race around the city part of the festivities, but said she still needs several volunteers to make it happen.

"We've been working very hard on several other ideas, too, but without funding, we just can't pull it off," she said.

Karulak did have fundraising buttons made with Cloquet area icons such as the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed gas station on them, which are for sale at many businesses in the Cloquet area for $3.

Even with those funds, however, Karulak doesn't think fireworks can happen without at least a few major sponsors stepping up.

"At this point in time, Cloquet will not be having fireworks this year, unless we can get the community to come together," she said. "There are over 10,000 people in Cloquet and we all enjoy going to see the fireworks with family. I hope together we can make it happen."


There is some hope as Karulak and members of the tourism committee plan to meet with members of area Kiwanis and Rotary groups in the next week.

The only other fireworks display in the county, in Moose Lake, will happen although funding is down for them as well, according to Dean Paulson, executive secretary of the Moose Lake Chamber of Commerce. The chamber in Moose Lake organizes all of the day's festivities, but the major fireworks sponsor, Grand Casino Hinckley, has also declined to participate this year. They also lost some funding that traditionally came from Carlton Country through the Iron Range Resource Rehabilitation Board funds that the county received.

Fireworks are the single most expensive item for the entire celebration in Moose Lake, which is a celebration with events over four days -- this year from July 1-5. In 2008, fireworks cost nearly $4,500, of which $400 was a one-time cost for new equipment.

To keep the display at a similar level, the cost would be some $4,100, Paulson said. So far, they've raised $2,000 and also have some fundraisers in the works.

"We will have fireworks," he said. "And we'll hope we raise enough to cover it so the Chamber doesn't have to dip into its account," he said. "We would also welcome anyone from the Cloquet area even though we don't wish for their fireworks to go away."

To donate to the Cloquet fireworks display, contact Lisa Karulak at (218) 390-3789 or the Cloquet Area Chamber of Commerce at 218-879-1551.

In Moose Lake, send donations to the Moose Lake Chamber of Commerce at P.O. Box 110, Moose Lake, MN 55767 and include a note that you want the donation to go toward the fireworks display.

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