Park Pals hope to bring back fireworks


BEACON FALLS — To keep the sky full of colors, Beacon Falls residents will have to focus on one color: green.

During efforts to trim the 2010-11 budget, the town eliminated funding for the Family Day fireworks in 2011.

An organization called Park Pals is trying to make sure the show goes on.

Park Pals, Inc. is a tax-exempt, charitable organization founded with the purpose of providing more recreational opportunities to the residents of Beacon Falls.

Park Pals member Joe Pepitone created this sign, which is displayed outside the Beacon Falls pharmacy and tracks the organization's progress toward its $8,000 fundraising goal.

During the past five years, Park Pals has hosted events such as family movie nights, haunted hayrides, kayaking at Matthies Park and the end of school year party. In addition, the organization is a fixture at community events like Family Day and the annual duck race.

The group’s current mission is to raise $8,000 to restore the firework show to Family Day 2011. It is reaching out to business, organizations and individuals willing to support its efforts with tax-deductible contributions. It will also seek to have funding permanently restored in the following years’ budgets.

Park Pals is jumpstarting the fundraising effort by pledging $1,000 of its money, setting the difference at $7,000.

A large sign has been erected outside of Beacon Falls Pharmacy, across from the fire department, to signify to residents the amounts raised and the progress made toward the ultimate goal. The sign was designed and created by Joe Pepitone, owner of Pepitone Creative Services and also a Park Pals member.

The firework show was a hot-button issue when the town was writing its budget, but Beacon Falls First Selectman Sue Cable said ultimately it had to be turned down.

“At town meetings there were many people that were adamant about not having and not spending money on the fireworks,” Cable said. “Then on the other hand, at the same time, I got dozens of letters from people that were upset to see the fireworks go.”

Cable added she thinks what the organization is doing is a great idea.

For the Park Pals members, raising money for Family Day was somethingof a a no-brainer.

“At the last fireworks, we were all sitting around and we decided we have to dedicate our time to the cause,” Park Pals President Angelo DiRubba said. “Beacon Falls in general has such an abundance of recreational property, considering the size of the town. I think we fell right in line with the notion of getting people out to use the parks. This is definitely a worthy cause; we’re such a small town we have to dig in and do what we can.”

To keep the fireworks show next year the money must be raised by February 2011 in order to contract with vendors. The estimated cost of the fireworks show itself is about $8,000, with the total cost of the event estimated at $10,000.

The town’s Parks and Recreation Commission has agreed to supplement from its activities line item the additional $2,000 for added expenses such as insurance, busing and other entertainment.

The organization acknowledges they may need some help along the way.

“If we fail to reach the goal we will then approach the town to see if they would be willing to offset any shortage,” said Park Pals member Joe Rodorigo, who is also a park commissioner. “If the town denies that, we will return all the money that can be tracked. Cash donations will go in to the general fund of the Park Pals to be used for other programs and activities.”

Cable said it may be difficult for the town to chip in for this expense.

“I think we would be hard pressed to offset any differences for the upcoming year because our budget has already been formed with the thought that the fireworks would not be included,” Cable said. “We will have to see what happens.”

Park Pals is currently looking for donations from the private and public sectors in and around the Beacon Falls area. Donations can be mailed or delivered to Beacon Falls Town Hall or the Beacon Falls Pharmacy.