“As of right now, the fireworks are happening no matter what,” Mahler said.
But the decreasing number of sponsors and lack of donations coming in to support the annual tradition had organizers worried. If the chamber is unable to raise adequate funds, this year will be the last celebration with fireworks, Mahler said. The chamber subsidizes the cost each year, and has already raised about a third of it in pledges from local businesses.
Tens of thousands of people from Baldwin and surrounding communities, including Ocean-side, Freeport and Rockville Centre, attend Baldwin Day each year. It started as the Chamber Picnic, organizers said, and evolved into a much larger event. The tradition was started in 1996 by Ginny Foley, a former chamber president who is now a board member. The fireworks show was incorporated into the celebration in 2008 as a way to celebrate America’s independence — the event is typically held a month after the Fourth of July. The 2008 show made Baldwin one of the first non-villages in Nassau County to hold a fireworks display.
The chamber provides thousands of hot dogs and hamburgers, and local pizzerias donate pizza pies, Mahler said. New World Music Center, at 1858 Grand Ave., provides a three-hour musical performance with local musicians.
After the Chamber Picnic portion of the event from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m., the Town of Hempstead will host its professional concert. Then the fireworks will be set off for a colorful show around 9:15 p.m.
The gold sponsors this year are Hempstead Town Councilwoman Erin King Sweeney and Cecere Family Funeral Home. The silver sponsors are Gala Fresh Farms, Kitty O’Hara’s, South Nassau Communities Hospital, Receiver of Taxes Don Clavin, Nassau County Legislator Debra Mulé and H&B Premier Tax & Accounting.
“I felt it incumbent on me to do all that I can to make sure that the Baldwin community was able to enjoy the fireworks show,” King Sweeney said, adding that the fireworks display had become such an important part of the community.
Mahler said King Sweeney doubled her sponsorship from last year because she knew there was a lack of funding, which was a “massive help.”
“To me, it’s a consistent story of government officials working with community leaders to bring about progress in Baldwin,” she said, also referring to local revitalization efforts. “The community puts a lot into it, and it’s part of their identity.”
To donate, mail a check to Mahler Realty, at 1030 Merrick Road, Baldwin, made payable to the Baldwin Chamber of Commerce. Organizers said donations would be appreciated.
Another way to donate is via PayPal at firstname.lastname@example.org. For questions, call (516) 223-3111.
“As far as my family is concerned, we’re honored to support Baldwin and the chamber any way that we can,” said Mike Cecere, owner of Cecere Family Funeral Home, which has supported the fireworks show since it began. “So it was a no-brainer for us to do it again.”
The annual tradition will continue: The fireworks show that caps Baldwin Day is on for this year, according to Chamber of Commerce President Erik Mahler.
Two months ago, chamber members said they were unsure whether the show would go on. They were concerned about bearing the entire cost of this year’s show, about $15,000, without residents’ donations. The pyrotechnics display is part of the chamber’s annual Baldwin Day celebration, which falls on Aug. 3 this year.