Symphony dropped from Fourth of July Splash at Lake Meridian Park

The fireworks are a go July 4th at Lake Meridian Park, but the symphony is out.

Kent city officials dropped the Tukwila-based Rainier Symphony from the event because of budget cutbacks, said Mark Hendrickson, cultural programs coordinator for the Kent Parks Department, in a phone interview Monday. The symphony played for about an hour the previous eight years, including a performance during the fireworks display.

“Unfortunately, this year we’ll not have the symphony,” Hendrickson said. “Hopefully, we’ll get them back when the economy turns around. But it will still be a great event.”

The city saved about $13,000 by cutting the symphony, including the cost of rental fees for a canopy and a stage, Hendrickson said.

The city’s annual Fourth of July Splash still features a full day of activities and entertainment from noon to 11 p.m. at the park, 14800 S.E. 272nd St. That includes a 10 p.m. fireworks show slated to be as large as previous years.

Dollarwise, based in Federal Way with check cashing and loan stores in Kent, Covington, Auburn, Des Moines and several other locations, pledged $4,000 per year for the next three years to help pay for the fireworks, said Michelle McDowell, president of the Lake Meridian Community Association. The neighborhood group funds the majority of the 20-minute fireworks display.

“That’s going to help a lot,” McDowell said.

Chuck Siele, the Dollarwise president and chief executive officer, lives on Lake Meridian. Siele has donated various amounts of money to the fireworks show for each of the last eight years. He agreed to a three-year deal at $4,000 per year when approached by the neighborhood association.

“We have a bunch of people over to our home for fireworks and then we watch the lake’s fireworks,” Siele said. “We want them to be nice. We want to be proud of the fireworks and to help out.”

The city agreed to again match up to $6,000 raised by the Lake Meridian Community Association to fund the fireworks show, estimated at about $18,000.

“It was not necessary to let that go,” Hendrickson said of the fireworks donation. “We are happy to be able to continue to produce the event.”

Residents in the Lake Meridian neighborhood kicked up their donations this year to help pay for the fireworks.

“They really stepped up,” McDowell said. “Some gave over and above, which is surprising in this economy. They’re staying home and putting money into something that feels good. People have donated more and in higher amounts in the 15 years that I’ve been here.”

Residents who donated more than $50 this year were given a special flag red, white and blue fireworks flag for their decks by the community association. The flag is about 4 feet by 6 feet with the word “fireworks” printed on it.

In 2008, the Lake Meridian group needed a lot of last-minute donations from residents and businesses to keep the fireworks show at the same level as previous years.

“It has gone very, very well after we ended up in the 11th hour not too long ago,” McDowell said.

The city of Kent became involved in the Fourth of July activities at Lake Meridian Park in 1998, although lake residents have put on fireworks displays for years. The city hired the Seattle Symphony to play at the event the first few years before the symphany schedule became too busy. The city hired the Rainier Symphony as a replacement.

Residents had to be in the park to hear the symphony.

“We couldn’t hear the symphony from the homes around the lake so it doesn’t change anything for us,” McDowell said. “We’re all having to tighten our belts a bit. I guess the city is doing the same.”

City officials are trying to set up to play recorded symphony music at the park during the fireworks.

For more information on the Fourth of July Spalsh, go to www.ci.kent.wa.us/arts or call 253-856-5050.

Fourth of July Splash

at Lake Meridian Park

Entertainment Schedule

Noon-12:30 p.m. – Allegro Precision Dance Company

12:45- 1:15 p.m. – Jim Abernethy, singer

1:30-2 p.m. – Spotlight Dance Company

2:15-2:45 p.m. – Sealth, alternative and grunge band

3- 4 p.m. – Pie and watermelon eating contests

4:15- 4:45 p.m. – Zhane Juniea, solo vocalist

5-6 p.m. – Rhy Thomas, juggler

6:30-7:30 p.m. – Sub-Motive, rock band

8-9:30 p.m. – Handful of Luvin’, rock band

10 p.m. – fireworks display


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