WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Wilmington’s annual July 4 firework show lost its biggest sponsor earlier this year. The city says the show will go on, but who will pay for it?
Without the $15,000 sponsor, the city is considering spending $25,000 more on the Battleship Blast.
Wilmington’s annual Independence Day fireworks cost $30,000. Each year the city budgets $10,000, while the Battleship North Carolina pays $5,000 and a title sponsor chips in the remaining $15,000.
In February U.S. Cellular pulled out as the top sponsor.
City leaders say people are going door-to-door asking for donations because so many businesses benefit from the show each year.
“We would welcome anybody that would want to contribute towards this event and we feel that we’re going to have contributions,” Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo said. “We may not get the full $15,000, but I think we will get an ample amount of it.”
If the city cannot find another sponsor, it could spend an extra $25,000 from the its food and beverage concession revenue. The majority of that money would come from Legion Stadium.
But money is not the only issue. The Battleship wants out.
Next year the Battleship wants people and businesses that benefit from the show to come up with a different way to have it.
“We’re simply looking for alternate sites to launch them from that better protect the Battleship that allow us to stay open and that allow visitors to continue to visit the ship on one of the busiest days of the year,” Battleship Assistant Director Christopher Vargo said.
Vargo says they are exploring putting a barge in the middle of the river for next year’s show.
Wilmington City Council will discuss the funding issue at its meeting tomorrow at 6:30 p.m.