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Funding troubles imperil July 4 fireworks

Go 4th on the Bay fireworks, was hosted

Go 4th on the Bay fireworks, was hosted by the Town of Islip at the Bay Shore Marina. (July 4, 2011) Credit: Steve Pfost

The fledgling tradition of Fourth of July fireworks over the Great South Bay is in trouble.

The third annual Go 4th on the Bay show is threatened by inadequate funding to mount the $40,000 production, Fireworks by Grucci producer Philip Butler said.

Islip Town, facing a budget shortfall, can't afford the overtime pay for the police and law enforcement needed for the show, he said.

"The only money we expect is the town to pay for their own police and fire, and that adds up to overtime," Butler said.

Islip Supervisor Tom Croci acknowledged the town isn't able to pay for the show this year. The hope is private sponsors and donations will fund it.

"The budget situation is such this year we're going to have to work with other sources to do this," he said.

The show has one sponsor, Pronto of Long Island, a community outreach center. Pronto director Vivian Hart said she wasn't worried about the show's future, though she declined to say how much the group has pledged to Grucci, which is putting on the show for a reduced fee.

"I'm fully confident that whatever is needed to make this happen, we're going to raise enough money to put on the show," she said.

The fireworks show started after the state canceled the popular Jones Beach fireworks in 2010. The Captree Boatmen's Association was one of several sponsors last year. Member George Bartenback said the group is discussing sponsorship of this year's show but couldn't give a specific amount.

Go 4th on the Bay is actually two identical shows on both ends of the Great South Bay shoreline. Funding for the show on the eastern shore has been provided by Patchogue Village, Butler said. He hoped sponsorships and pledges can save the fireworks for the western side, near Bay Shore.

"We're not expecting the money from the town, but from pledges and patriotic groups of people who want to pay for the town costs and the fireworks," Butler said. He hoped spectators from Fire Island, East Islip and West Islip pledge money.

With 82 fireworks shows throughout the country for Independence Day, Grucci mounts the Bay Shore show as a goodwill gesture to its Brookhaven neighbors and Long Island, Butler said.

"Grucci doesn't need another fireworks show," he said. "This is strictly a passion of my own, to see if we can create a fireworks show of our own."

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