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No fireworks in Bonfield

January 4, 2019

BONFIELD — The sky will be dark this Fourth of July in Bonfield.

Last week, an official announced with a “heavy heart” that organizers of the annual fireworks will not put on a display this year.

“Maybe we can bring it back with help from our townspeople in 2020,” village board member Jim Watters said in a Facebook post.

A woman responded, “That’s sad.”

“It really is,” Watters said, “but people are busy, and it’s hard to find the right people who can help.”

Bonfield, population 380, has one of the area’s more elaborate fireworks displays.

The fireworks committee, which is separate from the village government, raises money every year for the fireworks.

Mayor Ron Wildman, who was appointed to the top job after the previous mayor moved out of town, said it’s hard to keep the fireworks when few volunteers step forward.

“It’s not just our little town; it’s all the little towns,” Wildman said in an interview. “Everyone wants the fireworks, but no one wants to help. It falls on a few people.”

Wildman remembers the fireworks when he was growing up. In the late 1970s, he said, Chicago media showed up at the display because it was among the best around.

Bonfield’s Fourth of July fireworks started in the 1960s and continued into the 1980s, the mayor said. Then, the annual display disappeared for a long time, returning for a few years in the 1990s.

Just a few years ago, it started back up again, Wildman said.

“Now, it’s going away again because of the same problem as before — hard to find people to help,” the mayor said.

He hopes the cancellation announcement might generate enough interest to bring back more volunteers. The town needs the fireworks, he said.

“There’s a restaurant and a body shop. There aren’t a whole lot of things going on in this sleepy town,” Wildman said.

Watters said some people have expressed interest in helping with the fireworks since he put out his announcement. Their efforts might result in a more limited display during a tractor pull about two weeks before the Fourth of July.

He said fireworks organizers need more help with the logistics of the event. On the Fourth of July itself, he said, they have had plenty of assistance.

“I hate to see the fireworks go away. It takes me all the way back to when I was 3,” he said. “A lot of people are upset the fireworks aren’t happening. Some of the people who are upset didn’t help.”

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