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St. Clair Shores

Local businesses foot fireworks bill

May 13, 2009

ST. CLAIR SHORES — The 2009 St. Clair Shores First State Bank Fireworks Extravaganza is back on.

After months of uncertainty, the city’s popular and highly anticipated Fourth of July fireworks show will be held on Friday, June 26 — a result of fast and furious fundraising efforts.

St. Clair Shores resident Duane Michno, a longtime city volunteer, traveled near and far over the past two months asking local businesses for their aid in funding a show for residents.

The result of his tireless work was 32 sponsors, each donating anything from $100 to $6,000.

“It was a much bigger project than I anticipated and it’s still ongoing,” Michno said. “What I learned was how many people want the fireworks in the city, and despite financial difficulties … they wanted to help. The businesses are very community oriented.”

Sponsors include National Coney Island, Kaul Funeral Home, Mastro’s Ice Cream, Roy O’Brien Ford and Gilbert’s Lodge. There were also donations made by businesses outside the city that often do contracted work for the city, such as Italia Construction, Anderson, Eckstein and Westrick, and Plante and Moran.

The fireworks show that will be put on again by Great Lakes Fireworks generally costs about $38,000. Michno’s goal was to raise $40,000, which includes $25,000 for the fireworks, $3,000 for a barge on the lake where the fireworks will be launched, and costs associated with police and fire assistance.

“This will be the biggest fireworks show we’ve ever had,” said Michno, adding that he received endless support from city administration, City Council and members of the Activities Committee, who were initially lacking funds in their budget to pay for this year’s long-running celebration.

“This was a really an eye-opening opportunity for me to work with a lot of people in the city,” Michno said. “They were a tremendous help.”

Sponsors of the fireworks show will receive recognition on the city’s cable stations, on the St. Clair Shores Local Matters cable television program, on signage at the entrance of the park, as well as a listing on the city’s Web site and in their newsletter.

The fireworks will launch at dusk, but Michno encourages spectators to arrive at Veterans Memorial Park early. He said there will be plenty of entertainment, food and drink sales by local vendors and a St. Clair Shores Idol event that will highlight some local talent.

The rain date is June 27, and a second rain date is June 28.

Raymond DeBates III and Paul Jankowski, co-owners of North Shore Apartments on the Nautical Mile, donated a considerable amount and were one of the first to get on board the effort.

“(We) have always enjoyed the fireworks since we were children,” DeBates said. “We couldn’t let them not go on. We thought it was too important to the city.”

Nico Gatzaros, director of operations for his family’s chain of Fishbone’s restaurants, said he is passionate about the community where Fishbone’s Rhythm Kitchen operates, and wanted to do all he could to help this year.

Fishbone’s had footed the entire bill for the show in previous years.

“It’s fantastic,” said Gatzaros, reacting to the successful fundraising effort. “I wouldn’t have it any other way.

“A lot of communities take for granted events like this, and they (city events) are hard to come by in these economic times,” he said. “It’s what keeps a town together, gives it character and breathes the right kind of values into it. It’s a wonderful community. St. Clair Shores is an excellent example of how a city should be run.”

Kathleen Zenisek, marketing director for First State Bank, said people need a Fourth of July celebration like this now more than ever.

“This is a good thing for the community,” she said, adding that First State Bank, which donated the highest amount with $6,000, works closely with thousands of customers from St. Clair Shores, as well as with city employees.

Zenisek said she was thrilled to learn so many businesses contributed to the effort and that the historical fireworks show is back on.

“Helping was the right thing to do. And an easy thing to do,” she said. First State Bank was founded in 1917 and opened its first St. Clair Shores branch in 1947. “I can’t think of a better year to do it.”


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