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Dance Friday for July 4 fireworks

LAKE WYLIE -- The second round of fundraising events for Lake Wylie's July 4 fireworks display needs to go as well as the first if a group of Lake Wylie businessmen, who formed in August to keep the show alive, are going to succeed.

"We want to be able to keep this tradition an ongoing celebration," said Bill Markolf, one of 20 volunteers who started the fireworks group to raise the $22,000 needed for this year's show, as well as having a balance to put toward the 2010 show. "We realize the economy's tough this year, but we need to keep this. We have to forge ahead and not let that stop us."

Following a fall dance and social event at River Hills Country Club and a poker run, which helped raise half the total goal, Keep the Fireworks Popping dance will be held Friday at River Hills Country Club with entertainment by Vanilla Cornbread. A second poker run is planned June 6, said group member Ken Ponder, which will begin at Mad Dog Custom Cycles and end at The Knothole, featuring three other stops, to make up for the current fund shortfall.

"We're short," Markolf said. "The goal is at 50 percent."

The group of businessmen united after last year's announcement by long-time host of the fireworks display, Camp Thunderbird, saying it would no longer use good faith payments to put on the show. With less than a month to go to raise the then needed $20,000, Camp Thunderbird vice president of camping services Andy Kane and Lake Wylie Chamber of President Susan Bromfield announced only $7,000 had been raised, and the annual show that brings thousands to Lake Wylie's shoreline was in jeopardy.

"He and I are most appreciative and relieved," Bromfield said. "It was not our goal to do fundraising. We just sort of inherited it."

She said the group is miles ahead of fundraising efforts in years past.

"This time of year, to have the money they have, is a blessing," Bromfield said. "It's been a great success."

Doug Cullen, another member of the fundraising group, said more efforts are being planned, possibly including a T-shirt designed for contributers and donation jars at local establishments.

"We want it to be a community effort," he said. "You can ask anybody in the area and they know the fireworks on July at Lake Wylie is the place to be."

While Camp Thunderbird still maintains the community fund, insurance and location for the event, the new fundraising group hopes the community understands how vital individual donations are for the show to go on. The group is not saying for certain what will happen if the goal is not met, though they say a shortfall would make efforts even harder next year and losing the show would make the event hard to bring back.

Want to go?

Keep the Fireworks Popping dance with entertainment by Vanilla Cornbread will be held from 7 to 11 p.m. Friday. Tickets cost $65 and includes all drinks and hors d'oeuvres. Proceeds go toward the Lake Wylie Fireworks Fund. Call 704-634-8883.

Make a donation

To make donations to the Fireworks Fund, send checks to Camp Thunderbird Fireworks Fund, One Thunderbird Lane, Lake Wylie, SC 29710.