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Kingston aims for fizzle-free Fourth

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By The Staff

By JENNIFER RAYMOND

jraymond@roanecounty.com

Kingston’s Fourth of July celebration could be another target of the slow economy.

“We know it’s going to be a lean year,” said Kingston parks and recreation director Rick Ross.

However, despite tough times and the increasing cost of fireworks, Kingston has no plans to tone anything down.

This year’s festival will actually have a few additions.

Last year’s festival cost $49,000.

This year, Ross said, the budget is $55,000 — if the money can be raised.

None of the new additions, including many senior citizen activities, have caused the increase. The jump is due to increases in the cost of fireworks as well as other materials needed, Ross said.

People attending can expect the same amount of fireworks as last year at Byrd Field.

“We’re going to try for the whole enchilada,” Ross said. “People have become accustomed to our level of fireworks.”

Drag boat races by East Coast Drag Boat Association are also back.

Ross said the association is looking at bringing sponsors to the event.

He said people may also be able to buy boat racing T-shirts, along with the event shirts, at the festival. The event T-shirts will also be available for pre-sale.

Another way Ross is looking at raising money is to hold a roadblock within the city.

The usual donations and sponsorships are also being sought.

Sponsors will be entitled to a VIP section under a tent at the event, giving them a place to watch the fireworks and catch shade from the sun.

Ross said they also hope to have car shows before the event to raise funds.

There will also be a car and motorcycle show on July 4th.

The festival will again feature inflatables, games for children and a homerun derby.

The raft race continues into its third year.

Ross hopes to get businesses and towns competing against each other.

“I’m throwing down the gauntlet,” he said. “Harriman, make a raft. Rockwood, make a raft. The city already has one.”

More senior activities will be offered this year, including a dance contest, bingo and a Kingston trivia scavenger hunt.

“We have a big senior dance group,” Ross noted.

Musical performances, including the group Fly in Blind, are on the lineup.

Ross hopes this year is a major turnout, with many nearby cities canceling their Fourth of July celebration.

“We feel like we are going to get an overflow,” Ross said.

For more information, to donate or become a sponsor, contact the parks and recreation department at 376-9476.