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Different Venue: Board votes to continue contract for fireworks at Freedom Celebration

By Bill Short
Fireworks 1The Millington Board of Mayor and Aldermen has voted unanimously to continue the contract for the fireworks display at the annual Flag City Freedom Celebration.
Board members took the action during their April 10 regular monthly meeting on a motion offered by Alderman Thomas McGhee and seconded by Alderman Don Lowry.
A resolution approving the contract states that, for many years, the city and Naval Support Activity Mid-South have “jointly coordinated” the Freedom Celebration. The Navy has provided the “contracting and accounting functions” for the event, which has been conducted each year at Navy Lake.
But the resolution notes that the Navy recently “ceased to operate” the Navy Lake area. And it cannot legally provide the contracting and accounting functions for an event not held on Navy property.
Because the city will now assume those functions, it has chosen to continue with the same contractor that the Navy selected and used to provide the fireworks display.
The contract agreement with Pyro Shows Inc. is for an amount not to exceed $25,500.
The resolution states that expenditures for the contract will be part of the city’s fiscal year 2018 budget and are expected to be funded by sponsors. It notes that a $12,750 “advance deposit” that was made will be “disbursed” and treated as a prepaid expenditure in the current fiscal year.
Kate Armitage, director of the Millington Arts, Parks and Recreation Department, said the city “historically” coordinated the Freedom Celebration with NSA Mid-South’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation Department while the Navy “leased, managed and operated” Navy Lake.
While noting that the Navy no longer has the lease, Armitage said it is her understanding that the Millington Industrial Development Board has already leased the property to “someone else.”
“We are still going to have the same fantastic Flag City Freedom Celebration,” she said. “But we’re going to do it on city property that can best accommodate the crowd and the logistics of the event.”
Mayor Terry Jones said the celebration will be moved this year to USA Stadium.
In response to a question by Alderman Mike Caruthers, Armitage said it will be conducted “outside” the stadium area.
While noting that she met with Pyro Shows during the previous weekend, she said the contractor has examined the site and has “no concerns.”
“So, it’s safe to do the fireworks there?” Caruthers asked.
“Absolutely,” Armitage replied.
But she acknowledged that the event may not be “cost-neutral,” because it requires “sponsorship dollars.” She is currently soliciting sponsors to cover the cost.
In response to another question by Caruthers, Armitage said the city does not receive a “percentage” of the concessions that are sold at the event. But it does get a “flat fee” for every concessionaire who participates.

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