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Help launch the Westfield Fireworks

By Erin O'Connor

Staff Writer

WESTFIELD "We have tried to keep this event a free event to the public. I find it exciting to think of the many people that are exposed to the [Springfield] Symphony who probably would never have that opportunity if they had to purchase a ticket. In this day and age attending the Symphony would be a luxury for many that is not in their budget," said Patti Andras, responsible for raising money for the Westfield Fireworks for the last 12- 14 years.

Andras is currently involved in a campaign to come up with another $800.00 for this year's fireworks but also replenish the surplus fund for the following year.

"Four years ago there would be a surplus in funds that would go towards the following years fireworks," said Andras, "Over the last few years, however, this has not been happening."

The fireworks use to occur at the Westfield High School location. At that time there were three ways set up to get into the field. Individuals collecting for the fireworks' fund could stand at all entrances and collect funds for the fireworks, said Andras.

"At Stanley Park there are thousands of ways to get into the field and people can come in ten wide," said Andras, "This way collecters can only get to two people on the ends and not the eight people walking in through the middle."

The move to Stanley Park has been good Andras said. Due to the increased amounts of guests it has room for. There were 10,000 people that could attend the Westfield High School display and about 30,000 that can attend the Park display.

There are, however, increased costs for the fireworks over the last four years due to the paying for a better display and the hiring of the band Andras said.

The cost has increased from a project that once required between $5,000 - $10,000 to one that now requires $15,800 to occur.

"If all 10,000 people donated a dollar at the previous location then that would be $10,000. You would think we would reach $30,000 at the new location-not so, we get about $10,000," said Andras.

The problem is that there are increased expenses, increased spectaters, but the amount of money being raised is not increasing.

"Last year I thought it would be the last year that I did the fundraising because I was really burnt-out but then the group Westfield on Weekends (WOW) approached me and offered to take care of getting the funding for the Springfield Symphony for this year that will cost an additional amount," Andras said.

The amount in paying for the Springfield Symphony as well as various incidentals that go along with it is $55,000, John Davies of the WOW organization said.

"The help of companies such as Berkshire Bank's Woronoco Foundation, MassMutual and WestBank contribute a large amount of the money that goes towards raising the funds," said Davies.

The WOW program is also selling sponsership passes to individuals wishing to contribute an amount in the price range of $50. The pass will give the individual preferential seating and parking for the event. The pass can be obtained by calling or going to the Westfield Community Development Center(CDC). They are located at 53 Court Street or by calling 562-7221.

The help of WOW, the Westfield Evening newspaper, Ann Callahan in the mayors' office, different businesses in the area, St. Mary's School and donations from individuals aid Andras in bringing the fireworks to Westfield each year.

"If we do not make enough money each year to fund the fireworks then we will have to have a smaller display or not have them at all," Andras said.

Contributions can be made by sending them to:

Westfield Fireworks Fund

c/o Patti Andras

71 Northwest Rd.

Westfield, MA 01085

The Fireworks are set to take place at Stanley Park on July 3. There will be a flyover by the 104th Fighter Wing. Corey and the Knightmen will be playing before and after the symphony. The Symphony starts at 7:30 The rain date for the fireworks and the Symphony will be July 6.