Fireworks will take flight again over Loch Raven Village

It will be a "star-spangled" Independence Day for Towson.

The Towson Area Fourth of July parade will march on Monday, July 4, at 10:30 a.m. this year — unless there is thunder and lightning.

That night, the rockets red glare will be visible in the skies over Loch Raven Village.

But that's only because the Associates of Loch Raven Village community association is footing the bill, as usual, for $9,500 worth of fireworks.

Pennsylvania-based Fireworks Extravaganza will shoot them off from the ball field at Loch Raven Academy middle school on LaSalle Road, beginning at dusk or around 9 p.m., whichever comes first.

The tab includes a thousand dollars worth of insurance, according to association president Gretchen Sarkin. The manpower the association provides comes free.

The 1,465 households of the village have been affected by the economy like everyone else. Fewer residents are paying the annual $40 dues."We're lucky if we get 30 percent of the village," she said.

"The fireworks are a financial burden, but we don't want to stop it," she said. "It has become a tradition."

The fireworks have always been a community-sponsored event. They were initially held on Luskins Hill, with the Loch Raven Business Association and the Loch Raven Kiwanis paying some $3,000 to $4,000 for them.

After the Luskin's store closed, the fireworks moved, eventually, to what is now Loch Raven Academy.

The Associates took the over in 2004. It has always been a "bring-your-own-chair-and-refreshments" event.

Donna Spicer, a long-term Loch Raven activist, was involved, in the early years.

"After the first year, I didn't face the fireworks, I faced the audience," she said. "I loved to watch the faces of the little kids. It was fantastic."

"It is our gift to the community," Sarkin said.

The fireworks are also a boon for local eateries and businesses. The display draws crowds from "everywhere — Towson, Parkville, Baltimore City," Sarkin said, "and they park everywhere, anywhere they can."

It has been popular, Spicer said. One year they put a notice in the Baltimore Sun and used her telephone number, she said. "I had 1,500 phone calls all asking when the fireworks were beginning. It burned up my recorder."

Sarkin estimates 5,000 to 6,000 people see the fireworks, including village residents who view them from their porches and yards.

Though the 35 minutes of fireworks are free, there will be association members walking around with cans asking for donations, Sarkin said.

"Donations would be welcome. Every little bit helps us to carry on the tradition," she said.

The community can't expect one community association to continue to carry such a big financial burden without help, Spicer said.

"People need to contribute. If they don't, someday it won't happen," she said.

Those who with to contribute may also send checks to Associates of Loch Raven Village, P.O. Box 9721, Towson, MD 21284-9721.

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