Monday night, July 4, will be the last time that longtime Falmouth Fireworks Committee members Joseph L. (Dutch) Drolette Jr., Arthur R. Ratsy, and Lee E. Adams lead the effort to dazzle Falmouth viewers at the annual Fourth of July fireworks display.
After the conclusion of this year’s event, the three will step down from their roles as chairman, vice chairman, and treasurer of the fireworks committee.
Vice chairman Mr. Ratsy organized the first Fourth of July fireworks show for Falmouth in 1980, and he has been involved ever since.
The decision to step down is a practical one for Mr. Ratsy, who is 80 years old. On Wednesday, June 29, he visited Falmouth Hospital after injuring his wrist lifting a table at the committee’s annual fundraiser, “Operation Beg.”
“What I don’t do for the fireworks,” Mr. Ratsy said, laughing. He reported that the injury was minor.
“My intention is not, not, to leave the fireworks committee,” said Mr. Ratsy. “I love it too much, I love the Town of Falmouth, and I love our country’s independence.”
However, Mr. Ratsy plans to decrease his participation in the committee by attending fewer meetings and stepping back from year-round fundraising efforts.
This is not the first time that Mr. Ratsy has taken a step back from the Falmouth Fireworks Committee. In 1995 he handed over the reins to Mr. Drolette, who has been serving as chairman ever since.
“I’ve enjoyed my run on it,” Mr. Drolette said. “I’d say there’s been more ups than downs.”
Despite his overall positive experience organizing the town fireworks, Mr. Drolette expressed fatigue with the intensive fundraising process. “I don’t want to be in charge of money again,” he said.
Each year, the committee works down to the wire to raise funds for the fireworks show. Volunteers can often be seen outside of local storefronts selling Falmouth Fireworks T-shirts until the last hours of July 3. In 2014, the fireworks were nearly canceled due to a lack of funds.
Although he has gotten used to the process, committee treasurer Mr. Adams said the fundraising efforts can be tiring.
“There’s so much work involved,” said Mr. Adams, who has served as treasurer for nearly eight years. “I think it’s also time to get some new blood in the committee.”
Although Operation Beg has long been the cornerstone of the committee’s fundraising efforts, in the past they organized other fundraisers, such as community casino nights. Mr. Adams expressed his hope that new members would bring fresh ideas to the table.
“I hope that people will come out to be on this great committee,” Mr. Ratsy said.
However, Mr. Drolette said that he currently has no successor, and he worries that the committee will not be able to pull itself together in time to make the down payment on next year’s fireworks show.
Each year the fireworks committee pays 50 percent of the show cost, about $27,500, to Atlas PyroVision Entertainment Group by August 15. Mr. Drolette said the early payment is key to the size and quality of Falmouth’s show.
This year, Falmouth selectmen voted to allocate $15,000 of their 2017 Fiscal Year budget to the Falmouth Fireworks Committee.
“It eases the pain of the 50 percent of the payment for next year’s fireworks,” Mr. Adams said. But he noted that $15,000 is only a small proportion of the funds needed to put on the display, which costs about $60,000 each year.
“It would be a lot easier on us if there was more involvement with businesses and restaurants in town,” Mr. Adams said. He noted that the fireworks are not only fun but a boon to the local economy, as they draw many visitors into town each year who spend money at local hotels, restaurants, and stores.
Other members of the Falmouth Fireworks Committee will continue to help raise funds for the annual show but Mr. Drolette said no one has yet expressed interest in leading the operation.
Both Mr. Adams and Mr. Drolette said they would continue to serve on the committee in some capacity: Mr. Drolette said he would likely help with the logistics of future events, and Mr. Adams plans on sticking around long enough to find a successor and help them with next year’s planning.
“Of course I would never leave anyone high and dry,” Mr. Adams said.