Mayor Chris Beutler today announced that the City's annual Independence Day Celebration will take place on Saturday, July 2 instead of July 4 to cut down on expenses. The event at Oak Lake Park will include fireworks, family games and activities and refreshments.
"I was disappointed that our City budget challenges forced us to cut funding for our annual Fourth of July celebration, the Uncle Sam Jam," Mayor Beutler said. "In celebrating our pride as Americans during the birthday of our nation, the event creates community bonds, and once those are broken, they are difficult to restore. So I ordered my staff to come up with possible solutions to hold our annual 4th of July activities and still meet our budget challenges."
The Mayor said the City budgeted about $50,000 for the 2010 event, and about 80 percent of that cost is personnel. When the event is on July 4, the City must pay staff regular overtime and holiday overtime. Police Officers provide security and traffic control for the celebration, and Police Chief Tom Casady said the date change will cut his department's expenses by 40 percent. Money also will be saved because other City staff will be able to set up for the event on Friday, a regular work day. Oak Lake Park also will be opened mid-afternoon on July 2 instead of 1 p.m.
"While some things will change, some will remain the same," Mayor Beutler said. "Families will still be able to count on the same great fireworks display as in years past, again sponsored by Pepsi. Parks and Recreation Department staff will provide traditional family activities and games in Oak Lake Park prior to the fireworks display." Activities in prior years have included canoeing, horseshoes, volleyball, bocce and carnival games.
More details on the event will be released in June, and information will be posted on the City website, lincoln.ne.gov. Food vendors interested in securing permits to sell food and beverages during the celebration are encouraged to contact the Parks and Recreation Department at 402-441-8262.