Brentwood Fourth of July committee sets fundraisers
Folding chairs line the 1.6 mile stretch of road for days, as thousands of mothers, fathers, and children — covered from head to toe in their best patriotic attire — wait for the bands, politicians and fire trucks.
Tents are hoisted in front yards.
Friends, families and strangers, even, gather for the day-long party. Thousands of runners take the street at sunrise, the extensive parade and, of course, the fireworks.
It's that good-old American tradition, a celebration of Independence Day, Brentwood-style.
“There's something neat about small town America, which is exemplified in Brentwood,” said council Vice President John Frombach, chairman of the Fourth of July committee. “They're getting ready to celebrate our independence.”
Yet, months before that warm, festive Brentwood celebration gets under way, a group of about a dozen volunteers gathers during the cold-weather months to plan and prepare for the borough's biggest day.
They organize and fund-raise, to ensure the day's successes, Frombach said. And as the borough approaches its 100-year birthday in 2015, even more planning and fund-raising is being done for the big day.
The hope, Frombach said, is to raise additional funds this year to allow the organization to produce a bigger parade and fireworks show next year.
The Brentwood Fourth of July Committee operates on a $30,000 budget that finances the annual parade and fireworks. The fireworks — from Star Fire Corp. — alone last year, including insurance, cost $10,400 for the nearly 25-minute show.
Until last year, the fireworks were ignited at Brentwood Stadium. With construction at the stadium, as part of a projected $8 million overhaul project at Brentwood Park that began in 2013, there was no access to the field last summer.
So, the fireworks were set off from the upper baseball field off Radisson Drive, where the elevation is 200 feet higher, Frombach said.
“Sometimes out of adversity comes something positive,” Frombach said. “Not being able to do what you have done for the last 50 years, you find out more people could see them.”
Firefighters watched the fireworks closer, since they were closer to homes than before, Frombach said. The way the ash fell, it did not go toward the stadium or the new turf, the councilman reassured.
“That is literally the only place that we could do it,” Frombach said.
The parade dates back to at least 1919. That's the oldest picture that can be found of the event, Frombach said. The fireworks have been around since the 1940s or 50s, as best people can remember, he said.
The Fourth of July is such an integral part of the borough that it even is the basis for the town's logo.
“Brentwood is known for this huge parade and this big celebration,” Frombach said.
Counting how many people attend the day's events each year would be hard, the councilman said, because they're sprawled out throughout the entire borough and South Hills participating.
The Brentwood Firecracker 5K committee, which is its own organization, with more than 2,000 runners participating last year, has made donations to local nonprofits each year. That has included the Fourth of July committee, to which they donated $10,000 last year.
The organization, which is holding a Night at the Races at St. Albert the Great on Feb. 21, also raises funds through mailers to nearly every household in Brentwood each year.
“Every dollar is very, very important to us,” Frombach said. “This is a tradition we can't let die.”
Stephanie Hacke is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5818 or firstname.lastname@example.org.