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Fireworks show to stay

LAKE WYLIE--With the last streaks of smoke barely dissipated into the Lake Wylie skyline, fireworks fans on the ground received good news for future July 4 events in Lake Wylie.

"We're going to keep the committee," said Bill Markolf, one of several Lake Wylie businessmen who helped raise more than $20,000 for Saturday's fireworks display atop the lake. "The committee is still pretty much intact."

Following the 2008 show, long-time launch site and fundraiser for the annual July 4 show Camp Thunderbird stated it would continue launching the fireworks if donations came in, but would no longer front the good faith payments becoming common each year as donations lagged. Not wanting the tradition to fade into the night sky, the Lake Wylie businessmen took over funding for the all-donation event.

"All said and done, they're paid for," Markolf said of Saturday's show.

The group held a half dozen or so events since the fireworks last year, including dances, poker runs and t-shirt sales. Donations also came in recently from the private sector, Markolf said, helping toward 2010.

"We got a start on next year of a few thousand dollars."

Lake Wylie Chamber of Commerce president Susan Bromfield, who alongside Camp Thunderbird vice president of camping services Andy Kane headed up the collection of donations for years, said "relief" is the word best describing she and Kane following a successful, completely paid for show.

"The show was a great success," she said. "I had some people call and say they think it was the best fireworks show they've ever seen."

Annually the show--which varies in cost but comes in between $20,000 and $24,000--requires a down payment of half the amount at the beginning of the year. Yet donations generally come in much closer the holiday, leading Camp Thunderbird in past years with the good faith payments.

Markolf's group hoped to raise enough for the 2010 show by Saturday, but were "a little bit disappointed" in donations from businesses. Already planned in the coming year are five or six events, including the same dances, poker runs and t-shirt sales. The group may add a golf tournament.

Other opportunities could come from an improved economy, or even a major naming sponsor if one can be found. Yet the event that for decades relied on individual and group donations likely always, at least to a great extent, will, organizers say.

In fact, more than $15,000 came in this year from individual donations, Bromfield said, including $1,860 collected during the show just at Long Cove Marina.

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