This year, the Fourth of July festivities at Dellinger Park will be presented by the Rotary Club of Etowah, not the Cartersville Optimist Club. Citing lack of manpower, the Cartersville Optimist Club recently announced it could no longer oversee the Independence Day staple.
“We’re down to about eight members,” said Cartersville Optimist Club President Spencer Dillard, adding while the group will not offer any major events in the near future, there are no plans to dissolve. “The youngest guy is 55. Most of us are over 70, and we just can’t do it anymore. … We don’t have the manpower to put it on anymore. We’re really sad that we can’t do it anymore, because it’s something that we’ve done in the community since the [U.S.] bicentennial in 1976.
“… [What I will remember is] the great support we had from the city and the county as far as putting on the fireworks, and WBHF radio with doing the parade, and just the people of Cartersville and Bartow County coming out every year. … It made for a great celebration. It was a nice, safe place for people to take their families on Fourth of July and watch the fireworks.”
Thankful for the Cartersville Optimist Club’s contributions, Rotary Club of Etowah member Matt Santini is looking forward to keeping the Independence Day fixture alive for future generations.
“The Optimist Club, they’re the ones that really revived the Fourth of July [festivities],” said Santini, WBHF station manager and mayor of Cartersville. “They’ve been handling that event since 1976, so they’ve carried a pretty high tradition [for] Cartersville and Bartow County on the Fourth of July for a number of years. The contributions they’ve made to do that and the good that they’ve done for our community over that long period of time is a tremendous accomplishment for them.
“Their numbers from what I understand have been dwindling and again the event got a little bit too big for what their membership is. I have been aware of that for the last year or so. So in preparation for that, I’ve been talking with the Rotary Club of Etowah that I’m a member. … The Rotary Club of Etowah is going to be picking up the torch from where the Optimist Club has left it off.”
As in the past several years, JRM Management Services Inc. will continue to its involvement in the Independence Day event.
“[JRM does] an outstanding job with the fireworks show and lining up vendors,” Santini said. “… It will continue to be a family event. It will continue to have vendors and great food, music and fireworks. There’s also some sponsorship opportunities.
“I think our club is in a position to more aggressively market those festivities for the Fourth of July. We’ve got some creative ideas … to take what the Optimist Club has built [as far as] a fantastic event and try to make it even better.”
Along with the Dellinger Park event, Rotary Club of Etowah also will be teaming up with WBHF radio for the July Fourth parade. Funds raised from entry fees will go toward a nonprofit or several charities selected by the civic group.
For more information about Rotary Club of Etowah, visit its Facebook page.