With a decades-long stretch of private sponsorship now at an end, the county government is taking over operation of this year's Fourth of July celebration in Columbia, and officials are promising an "upgraded, choreographed fireworks display."
And officials expect the cost of the event to rise.
The bill likely will be $100,000, county officials said, though five private sponsors have pledged a total of about $15,000 in donations, and government will recoup some expenses from vendors' fees, and sales of merchandise and water.
The county stepped in after the Kiwanis Club of Columbia announced this year that it no longer had the members or resources to sponsor the event.
"I promised the show would go on," County Executive Ken Ulman said in a statement last week. "We're quickly discovering how much work it took and how many hours this volunteer organization put in to make the Fourth of July celebration a success."
Kevin Enright, the county communications director, said that with limited time to prepare for this year's celebrations, county Recreation and Parks Department workers must be paid to staff the event, as opposed to private volunteers. The money will come from the proceeds of fees the department collects for other programs and services.
Enright said in March that the fireworks display cost the Kiwanis Club $38,000 last year. The club has sponsored the fireworks for the past two decades.
County officials say they hope to improve on past years' celebrations.
The festival is to begin at 5 p.m. and will be centered around Lake Kittamaqundi. The celebration will feature live entertainment on two stages, with performances by the Patty Reese Band, the Players Band, and Damon Foreman and Blue Funk.
There will also be carnival games and crafts for children. People can bring picnic food or buy it from vendors, and parking is free at the lakefront.
The fireworks display is scheduled to begin at 9:30 p.m. The rain date is July 6 for the fireworks only.
The full schedule for the celebration is available at www.howardcountymd.gov.
*County government offices
*All trash and recycling services and landfill
*Parking meters are free
*911 Center, police and fire
*Howard Transit & Connect-a-Ride (limited routes)