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250th Anniversary Committee seeks funding

Date: 3/14/2012

March 12, 2012

By Chris Maza

WILBRAHAM — Representatives of the Wilbraham 250th Anniversary Committee went before the Board of Selectmen at its March 5 meeting to request consideration in the fiscal year 2013 (FY13) budget.

"We hope to start the celebration on the [Dec. 31] of this year and our biggest concern is lack of funds," Kevin Moriarty of the Anniversary Committee said. "We are looking for some financial support from the town in the 2013 budget."

While the majority of the events planned for the 250th Anniversary will come at little to no cost, there are some that carry a hefty price tag, not the least of which is the town's First Night celebration.

Moriarty explained the committee's desire to utilize Main Street for the event with activities taking place throughout the evening at the United Church, the Masonic Hall, the Antheneum Society and the buildings at Wilbraham & Monson Academy, along with carriage rides on Main Street.

"We hope to top the night off with fireworks," Moriarty said. "The cost of the fireworks [is] $16,000."

The parade scheduled to take place on June 23, 2013 also carries with it significant expenses.

"If we want the Mummers, it's $6,500 and the Shriners are $5,500," he said. "That evening we have been assured that the U.S. Air Force Band of Liberty will be performing at Fountain Park after the parade and we have fireworks that night. Those fireworks cost $12,000."

The committee is anticipating a total budget of $50,000 to $60,000 and a total of $15,000 is currently in its coffers. It has been actively organizing fund-raising events and still hopes to be able to fund the total budget itself, but is looking for support from the town as a contingency.

Moriarty explained that the committee has talked with Monson Savings Bank, Citizen's Bank and Hampden Bank about donations, but committee member Patricia Diolatevi pointed out that some banks may be holding back from committing fund given the large amount of support they gave Wilbraham and other communities in the wake of the June 1, 2012 tornado.

Diolatevi added that a golf tournament in conjunction with the Rotary, from which the 250th anniversary celebration will receive a portion of the proceeds, is being planned, as well as a town-wide tag sale for which residents will host a tag sale on their property and pay a fee be included on a map of all tag sales in town.

The Board of Selectmen said they would discuss the matter with the Finance Committee and with Town Administrator Robert Weitz. Selectman Robert Boilard also suggested evening bus trips to the Connecticut casinos as another possible moneymaking opportunity.

"They're a huge revenue generator," he said, adding town sports organizations have had good success with them. "You can make upwards of $800 to $2,000. Since we have some time, you might be able to do two or three trips and could generate $5,000 to $8,000."

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