Let our small town spirit be rekindled
By Judi Wiegman
This week, many towns across the country, large and small, will celebrate the Independence of the United States of America. Parades and family get-togethers will dominate the scene as fireworks burst on the canvas of a darkening sky. It is the perfect day for community celebrations.
In times past, the park at Rita Blanca Lake was filled with the smell of hot dogs and brats, laughter and fun to celebrate the 4th of July in Dalhart. There were booths selling crafts, food and drinks. Bounce rooms, face painting, pie eating contests, horse rides and other activities were there in abundance for kids and adults. And, who can forget the fun had by all at the tug-of-war contests?
Many people ask in coffee shops, on the streets, in club meetings and even in phone calls to the Chamber office, “What happened?” There seem to be several answers to this question.
According to Kristine Olsen, Chamber President, the Chamber Board voted to discontinue activities due to the lack of help. She stated that interest in the activities dwindled after fireworks were banned from the park. The Chamber has turned its focus to helping with the City controlled fireworks display that takes place on the 4th. They will begin this year’s display at dark-30.
Fire Chief Curtis Brown recalled the last year fireworks were allowed in the lake area. “Officers were trying to control the misuse of fireworks and people began shooting rockets toward the officers.” He further stated that, “Nearly every year someone was injured.”
But, the firemen are undaunted by the lack of an organized event. Every 4th of July you will find them at the park playing volleyball, cooking, and enjoying the families that come to the park to wait for the City sponsored fireworks display.
City Manager Greg Duggan confirmed that because of the danger of possible injury and fires, personal fireworks at the park have been banned for the past three years. He also stated that he would like to see 4th of July activities take place at the park. He said, “Any organizations interested in booths or activities are welcome to use the wide area in front of the coliseum.” They would need to make him aware of their plans, and he would like to see it happen.
There are grills available for cooking, pavilions and grassy areas to gather and celebrate this great day in our history.
Linda Marshall, Chamber Board member, stated, “It is disappointing to know the 4th celebration has been dropped.”
Susan Clay, owner of the Dalhart Texan, responded, “There may have been a lack of volunteers, but there has never been a lack of interest in having the 4th of July celebration.”
Local veteran, Paul Henderson, offered this statement, “As a veteran, I think it is a shame that the community does not think the 4th of July celebration is important enough to put out the effort to make it happen.”
Brian Gaskill, Chairman of the Board for the Chamber of Commerce, agreed to place the matter of a 4th celebration before the board at their July meeting.
Would you like to see the July 4th celebration re-instated at the park? It will take interest from local patrons and a willingness to help with the activities. Make a call, drop a note or e-mail the Dalhart Texan (244-4511) or the Chamber office (244-5646) and express your opinion.
Be glad you chose Dalhart as your home town. Let’s be part of “We the people” and let our small town spirit be re-kindled.