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Catonsville's annual fundraising dance for July 4 canceled

By Julie Baughman, jbaughman@tribune.com

6:35 PM EDT, April 1, 2013

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Last week's cancellation of the annual Dance for the 4th that had been scheduled for April 6 at the Catonsville Armory on Mellor Avenue means the Catonsville July 4th Committee will have to make some changes in its efforts to support Catonsville's annual celebration.

The event had been the biggest one-day fundraiser for the July 4 parade and fireworks that take place in Catonsville every summer.

"We raise about $15,000 for that one night," said DyAnn Moree, director of the Catonsville July 4th Committee and chairwoman of the parade and dance committees. "That's why it's a really big disappointment this year that we weren't able to have it."

Moree said finding the funds to replace those that would have come from the dance will be an issue this spring.

"We might have to cut back on some of the fireworks if we don't make enough money," she said.

"Our dance is a very big fundraiser for that particular day," said Moree.

Between the parade in the afternoon and the fireworks at night, the Fourth of July festivities are expensive, Moree said .

"As a community, over the years, we tried to find more creative ways to raise money because the whole day costs about $100,000," Moree said.

In addition to door-to-door campaigns by volunteers, there have been sales of T-shirts emblazoned with the famous chairs Catonsville residents put out weeks ahead of time to save their spots along the parade route. There have also been contests for the best chairs.

But the dance had been the group's biggest source of income from one day of effort, according to Moree.

This year, however, Moree said the committee was only able to sell 82 tickets for the dance. The tickets were $35 in advance.

She said the committee needed to sell 400 tickets to meet its fundraising needs.

"We've always sold out," she said of previous years' success.

"I don't know if it's the time of the year that threw everything off, or the economy," Moree said.

She said the lack of interest could stem from a combination of factors, including the fact that the dance was scheduled for a month later than it usually is and that many people are often out of town for Easter vacation.

Catonsville resident Greg Morgan, a former member of the July 4th Committee member, said the date change could have had an impact on ticket sales.

Morgan said he has attended the fundraising dances on and off since he first joined the committee in 1993.

A lack of fresh ideas regarding the dance could have been a factor, he said.

"I think it's been the same venue for a lot of years and people have other opportunities to support the community in other ways," Morgan said.

"There's just a lot of other opportunities for people out there and I think this one, it's one of those events that's pretty much the same thing every year," he said.

Though the dance's cancellation will be a big challenge to the committee, Moree believes community residents will increase their donations.

"They (Catonsville residents) know how important the parade is, so people will start sending in donations, hopefully," she said.

Moree said the committee plans to sell the traditional T-shirts during the Greater Chamber of Commerce's annual flower mart in May and also at local weekly farmers markets.

"People love that chair shirt," Moree said.

This year, the shirts will be sold in two new colors in addition to the traditional red and blue. Shirts will also be available in orange, in recognition of the Baltimore Orioles and purple for Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens.

The committee will also sell the shirts at Frederick Road Fridays free weekly concerts.

There are also plans for some different, large-scale fundraisers for next year, including a Halloween dance in October featuring the band Klassix.