The city of El Dorado is hoping to make the Fourth of July Celebration even bigger and better this year.
The El Dorado City Commission was asked for their thoughts on some possible ideas during their meeting Monday.
“At Forest Park we have a celebration each year with various games geared to children mostly,” said Kevin Wishart, parks and recreation director.
Those activities also included wiffle ball for adults and a bean toss, as well as a free swim and free lunch.
“We’ve talked about expanding the program,” he said. “We try to keep it as family oriented as we can. On the staff level we have talked about expanding the program, shrinking the program. We’ve talked about everything.”
They also have talked about moving it to East Park or El Dorado Lake.
“We want direction as to where you would like us to take this,” he said.
Herb Llewellyn, city manager, said the lake softball and soccer complex gives them a lot of opportunity.
“It seems if it was something the community got behind and thought was a great idea, I could see it become a bigger and bigger thing as an expression of the patriotism of the community,” he said.
One other thing they needed to consider was where they were going to shoot the fireworks this year. A few years ago they shot them off of the west end of the dam, and since they have been alternating between Prairie Trails and the Legion land.
Commissioner Bill Young had brought up the item to city staff.
“I had a lot of community members come to me wanting to find more ways to accomplish a couple of goals,” he said. “Number one was express our gratitude and celebration for our country’s birth and our independence and those people who have served our country. The other thing a lot talk about is finding a way to try to make something a little bigger or better. We don’t have a lot of venues as we used to have to get out as a community as when we had Prairie Port. I think people are missing that all-day type event.”
He said he has talked to some businesses which would be willing to sponsor some events.
He thought there was plenty of green space at the lake and they could shoot the fireworks off of the dam.
“I think it’s a great opportunity to celebrate and bring the community together and to rejoice in what we have as a community and what we have as a country,” Young said.
Page 2 of 3 - Llewellyn said they have a request in to the Corp of Engineers for an application to shoot the fireworks off of the dam, but the last time they requested that they never received the application and shot the fireworks off of state land.
Commissioner Chase Locke had a different idea. He suggested doing everything at the new sports complex but was told there would not be enough room to expand.
“We could do what we do currently at the stadium without any problem,” Wishart said. “It would take away from the swimming pool.”
Locke said his only concern with the lake was the lack of shade.
Wishart said there was some shade there, but it was not as plentiful as at Forest Park. He also said there was a lack of services and if this would expand they would have to address some electrical issues at the lake complex.
Commissioner David Chapin thought they should be at the stadium.
“My concern is the core of the city gets to see them at the stadium and not at the lake,” he said.
Commissioner Nick Badwey pointed out most people would not be able to see the fireworks from their front porch; they would have to go somewhere.
“I kind of like the idea of doing something different,” Badwey said, “going out to the lake and getting a bigger venue out there. Let’s see what type of response we get. Let’s try it I think. When I was a kid it was a big deal to go out to the lake and watch fireworks.”
“I’m down for the lake,” Locke decided. “I still like the stadium idea, but I see where we might need more space.”
Mayor Mike Fagg was concerned because it was city money used to shoot the fireworks and people would have to buy a day pass to get into the lake, but Llewellyn said people did not have to buy a pass to go to the city’s sports complex.
Fagg also was concerned about shade.
“There aren’t any shade trees and some of the older people like to come out and sit in their lawn chairs,” he said. “I always liked Forest Park. You might think about East Park.”
He also thought holding it at BG Products Veterans Sports Complex would be a nice way to show that off to people.
“I’m kind of with Commissioner Chapin on this one,” Fagg said.
Page 3 of 3 - Young agreed there were some logistics they would have to work out.
“I think we’re really landlocked at Forest Park,” he said. “You guys do a great job there but that’s all we can do. There is no space to do anything else there. I am hoping we can find an opportunity to do something that provides more events to bring more of the community together in one spot.”
“I’m all in favor of going to the lake in the future,” Chapin said, “but I have a little problem making a decision on something we don’t have a permit for.
“We had a fantastic turnout the first year we shot them there (at the Legion land) without any stadium at all,” Chapin said. “I think there are a lot of logistics to be done with the lake. For next year, I’m on board. I’ve always said off the dam is where we need to be shooting them.”
“If you can’t make it happen, you can’t make it happen,” Young said.
But if city staff could orchestrate it, he wanted to do it.
Llewellyn asked the commission to give them until the next meeting to see if they could get the permit from the Corp.