Marco business owners, residents raise $20K to keep fireworks tradition alive

Firework over Residents Beach on Marco Island, July 4, 2011. Photo by Donald Pecora.

Firework over Residents Beach on Marco Island, July 4, 2011. Photo by Donald Pecora.

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Joe Oliverio, owner of Joey’s Pizza and Pasta House on Marco Island

Cheryl Ferrara / Eagle Correspondent

Joe Oliverio, owner of Joey’s Pizza and Pasta House on Marco Island

— Viewers of tonight's Marco Island fireworks display can take pride in their community's effort to maintain a yearly tradition.

The community, led by a business owner, raised $20,000 so the show would go on as planned.

In an attempt to save money last winter, some City Council members argued eliminating the Fourth of July celebration would save the city $40,000.

"There was a feeling from some members that that was an easy way to cut expenses," said Chairman Jerry Gibson. "But as I say, it's important we as a community do come together on special occasions."

Residents took the podium during that December council meeting and the city agreed to pay for half of the display if someone stepped up to raise the other $20,000.

Joe Oliverio, owner of Joey's Pizza and Pasta House on the island, volunteered.

"This is the birth of our nation," Oliverio said at the time. "Everything else is secondary."

Months later, Oliverio credits a generous business community and a pervasive patriotism in Marco with the successful effort.

"It's never easy in these times to ask people to donate to something they feel should be paid for by the city," he said. "That was a lot of the feedback we got, but we stressed it was a community event."

Donations ranged from $100 to $3,200 and mainly came from business owners, Oliverio said. Fourth of July is the biggest economic driver for Marco Island business owners between Easter Sunday and Christmas, Oliverio added, and eliminating the celebration would have also led to an economic hardship for employees.

"It truly is a trickle-down effect when you have no money coming in," Oliverio said. "What we did should be an example to government in Washington that working with businesses is better for everybody."

Donations for next year's display are already being collected at Iberia Bank.

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Comments » 4

marco826 writes:

I saw the fireworks and I think Marco and the business community that contributed got ripped off....worst year yet.

cribguy writes:

Video of Marco Island 4th of July 2012.
Skip to about 3:50 for grand finale.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-7ekj-...

RayPray writes:

in response to marco826:

I saw the fireworks and I think Marco and the business community that contributed got ripped off....worst year yet.

Could not have been worse than the Naples parade.

No bands, no music.

Just one meandering infomercial for irrelevant politicians & marginal business.

People were packing up to leave before it was half done.

Thought the Marco Xmas parade the most boring, but this beat it by a mile....

marco826 writes:

in response to GorchFock:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Have gone to this event 7 years in a row...this one seemed bland...Finale was fine but until then, little to get excited about....I'm sure the kids liked it enough though....$40,000 is a lot of money for 20 minutes of sparkles....few booms.

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