Lights out for Baldwin fireworks?

Chamber of Commerce needs community funds to continue annual tradition


For the first time in 12 years, Baldwin will not have its annual fireworks show — unless the community pitches in, Baldwin Chamber of Commerce President Erik Mahler said. The chamber, which pays for the pyrotechnics display as part of its annual Baldwin Day celebration, cannot bear the entire cost of this year’s show, about $15,000, without residents’ donations, he said.

“It’s just really sad that after so many years, and literally tens of thousands of people enjoying Baldwin Day, for it to comes to this,” Mahler said.

It’s not just Baldwinites who have enjoyed the fireworks over the years. “It’s called Baldwin Day, but we get hundreds of people from Freeport, Rockville Centre and Oceanside,” Nancy Capozzi, secretary of the Chamber of Commerce, said. “We get a lot of families at this event.”

Despite the large attendance at Baldwin Day, few people have donated money to the chamber to help it continue hosting such events. “It’s very disheartening when so many people come out to a beautiful show, that unfortunately they don’t reach into their pockets to help offset the costs,” Mahler said. “Even a minimal donation would go a long way.”

Donations from community sponsors, such as area businesses, have also been decreasing in recent years. “We lose one or two sponsors every year,” Capozzi said. “We’ve been on a steady decline.”

Baldwin Day was started by Ginny Foley, a former chamber president who is now a board member, in 1996, and was called the Chamber Picnic. “It was just a fun thing for us to do to give back to the community,” Foley said. Mahler said he incorporated the fireworks show into Baldwin Day in 2008 as a way to celebrate America’s independence. “I believe there’s nothing greater than celebrating our independence than by setting off fireworks,” he said. The event is held about a month after the Fourth of July —Baldwin Day is scheduled for Aug. 3 this year.

The 2008 show made Baldwin one of the first non-villages in Nassau County to hold a fireworks display. “People saw it as such a positive thing for the community,” Mahler said, “and we finally felt on an equal playing field with the villages that had fireworks shows like Rockville Centre.”

The chamber, Mahler said, will still hold Baldwin Day regardless of whether it receives enough donations to bring the show back. “But the unfortunate thing is we’re not finishing with the grand finale of the fireworks,” he added.

The fireworks, Foley said, added another level of excitement to Baldwin Day and attracted more people to the event. “It brought people to Baldwin who otherwise might not have come here,” she said. It was disheartening, she said, that the show could be canceled. “But I’m hoping that the possibility of it not happening will spur people to help out,” she said.

Foley also said that she hoped the event would show residents how much the chamber does for the community. “Everyone works so hard for hours and hours on Baldwin Day,” she said, “and we’re facing a lack of funding and a lack of human resources.” In addition to Baldwin Day, the chamber pays for the Christmas decorations at the corner of Grand Avenue and Sunrise Highway every year, and maintains the garden at Verity Lane and Grand. “We don’t get help from the Town of Hempstead,” Foley said. “It’s all donated money and donated time.”

Those wishing to donate to the chamber can do so by mailing cash or a check to the Baldwin Chamber of Commerce, at 1030 Merrick Road. Mahler said the group would need to raise the $15,000 to hold the show by late May if it wanted to guarantee fireworks for this year’s Baldwin Day. A GoFundMe page may also be established in the near future to help raise the funds, he said.