By Janet Bresenham
For nine years, Tom Martin and his wife Gail have been working to maintain a long-standing tradition in Clovis — the annual Fourth of July fireworks display.
But Martin is quick to point out that his original year organizing the event he calls “Smoke on the Water” quickly put into proper perspective his role as chief fund-raiser.
“I talked to the company doing the fireworks show, the fire department and the police department and they said all they needed me to do was call and tell them what time to shoot off the fireworks,” he said.
Western Enterprises of Oklahoma coordinates the Clovis fireworks display and others in the region, including Lubbock, Amarillo, Albuquerque and Rio Rancho.
“All we do is raise money from a couple hundred businesses in Clovis,” Martin said. “They’re the ones that put it all together.”
Money still is needed for this year’s fireworks show, which is projected to cost about $20,000, he said.
“We’ve done well this year, but we’re still a little bit shy by several thousand dollars,” Martin said.
Martin remains confident area businesses and individuals will help bring in the balance of the money needed in time to light the fuses and fill the skies above Clovis with color, light and sound for the Fourth of July.
“We have people make donations of $5 all the way up to $1,000,” Martin said. “This year, we started early, around the first of May, sending out letters — primarily to chamber of commerce members. The chamber has been very, very gracious the last two years to send the letters out for us, so that saves money.”
Martin said he never has had to go door to door or make phone calls seeking donations.
“The businesses in Clovis have been very good,” he said. “And it’s not necessarily the same businesses every year, although there’s probably a core of about 100 businesses that donate every year. All the people are just super about donating.”
The show, which will be similar to the one held last year on July 5 after the Fourth of July event was rained out, likely will run a little more than 20 minutes and will be set off electronically and choreographed to music.
The universal appeal of Fourth of July festivities also serves to encourage both donations and spectators for the fireworks show, Martin said.
“It is the only holiday that anybody standing on the ground in the United States can celebrate,” he said. “You know, we’ve been given so many freedoms that I don’t even think it matters if you’re a citizen. If you’re here in the United States on the Fourth of July, you should be celebrating those freedoms.”