Every year residents enjoy events put on by their local cities and counties, but not many people truly have a grasp of the magnitude of work that goes into their success. One shining example of the hard work and dedication of these volunteers is the annual Morgan 4th of July celebration.
Christy Jacobsen, committee chair and Tracy Compton, assistant chair, see more of each other than they do their spouses these days. They work tireless hours to assure that all the minute details of the event are taken care of. The first year Tracy volunteered with Tammy Babbitt and Karen Sunday, there was not a consistent and coordinated Independence Day celebration in town. “After the first year I participated, I wanted to ensure that the momentum continued. It takes months each year to do this, but the enjoyment seen on people’s faces makes the hours of sacrifice worth it. Next year I will not be able to continue in this role, so my hope is that others will step up and continue this tradition, so we can continue to have a fun, wholesome, hometown Independence Day celebration in Morgan. I’d so much rather stay in beautiful Morgan and celebrate than spend all day in the heat and crowds on the other side of the mountain.”
The committee has a few challenges to overcome as they try to keep this a quality event. They are continually striving to address the safety of the community. Traffic and congestion must be minimized, there should be entertaining activities for all age groups, and they have to achieve all this while complying with all local laws and ordinances. The biggest challenge is budgeting. In addition to fee waivers, usage of city and school district properties and facilities, Morgan City and Morgan County make generous donations through the Recreation Board. The city and county also allow fee waivers and usage of city and school district properties and facilities. The donations total $3,000. However, the cost to put on this event is around $13,000. This factor makes fund raising an essential part of volunteer efforts. Volunteers ask for donations from supporting business, but they also use the event as an avenue to fund raise. All proceeds from the daytime and evening events go to pay for the overall event. In addition, each “for profit” vendor is required to contribute a portion of their sales to the overall event and a collection jar is passed around at the “free” evening concert.
Morgan 4th of July Committee consists of 15-20 core volunteers, and numerous others. Their objective is to provide the citizens of Morgan the highest quality hometown celebration possible a celebration that can be enjoyed inexpensively or free of charge, while at the same time offering opportunities for school groups and organizations to work at generating much-needed funds. The 4th of July event is also a venue for local businesses to promote their products and services. Booth fees are minimal and potentially expose the business to as many as the 2,000-3,000 people anticipated to attend the event.
This year’s school sponsored activities included the MHS Cheerleader’s Bike Race and Concession Sales, MHS X-Country team’s 5K Race and Kids Fun Run, MHS Volleyball Team Spike Night and Breakfast, MHS Student Body Officers Concession Sales, MMS Concession Sales, and Morgan Elementary Scholastic Book Sales. The anticipated combined revenues for these activities will hopefully generate $15,000-$20,000 for these school organizations, while at the same time encouraging entrepreneurship within the younger generation.
While fundraising is the backbone of the event, every volunteer is vital to the event’s success. Jacobsen feels “it is a priority to recognize and promote the freedoms and the liberties we enjoy. We salute the flag and show our patriotism as our communities are represented in the parade. We honor the service men and women who have served our country, as well as our current government leaders. There are times when volunteering for this event is tough, but each year as I look around at the people enjoying themselves, connecting with one another strengthening relationships, I feel so lucky to have had a part in this effort. I feel so fortunate to have worked with such amazing committees these past four years. I’ve learned so much from them.”
Tausha Dingman is dealing with public relations this year. Dingman is one of many volunteers who are new to the area and wanted to get involved in an effort to get to know people in the community better. She commented that she “loves small communities and the home town feel, but small community events can only survive if people volunteer.” Melinda Somerville is also new to the area and is over concessions. Her main goal is to give the public great food for a reasonable price and still make enough to help raise funds to pay for the event. Jim Nickerson is the chairman of the veteran sub-committee. He oversees the veterans and schedules their participation in the flag ceremony, color guard, the U.S. Air Force flyover and the opening portion of the evening entertainment where the veterans in the audience are honored. Julie Russell is assisting Michelle Wilkinson with the children’s games and volunteers out of appreciation for past volunteers who have worked so hard to make this event a success. She hopes she can contribute in some small way to help it continue.
Volunteers are always welcome, whatever level of service they have to offer. For a full listing of volunteers or for more information about volunteering, please visit morgan4th.com.