Editors note: Shannon Jones, special events coordinator for the Taft Chamber of Commerce, sent this letter out on Monday)
The third of July, at approximately 9:10 p.m., the year-long dream of returning a fireworks display to the people of Taft was realized. More importantly, the accomplishment was done through the hard work of the people of Taft themselves—not by a government "bail-out" or the benevolence of just one person or entity.
As always happens in any endeavor of a large magnitude, there were many people involved. The list of official sponsors has been published over the course of the last weeks, from an acknowledgement of Mr. Hampton's (of Westside Waste Management) $5,000 to checks from individual citizens. The pennies given at receptacles on countertops around town also provided a way for people to be part of the success of the Taft Fireworks Fundraiser.
This thank-you note is for the folks who came to the Rails-to-Trails to celebrate our country's Declaration of Independence. It is also a huge thank-you to those folks who made the last-minute difference in the success of the evening.
The heat wave gave the Taft Chamber an extra layer of responsibilities; we wanted to make sure all those who came to the event would be comfortable with the extreme weather. To offset the heat, we provided large shade structures in the concert area, but we also needed shade around the Rails-to-Trails. Taft Union High School graciously provided seven pop-ups and the student workers to set them up on the day of the event. They also gave us ice to ice down the tubs of bottled drinking water wonderfully provided and delivered by Fastenal. Thank you also to All in the Sandwich who donated ice on both Wednesday and Thursday.
When an early-Monday-morning assessment of the large areapotentially filled with observers revealed we did not have enough power in our public address system, Billy Long (assisted by Heather Foss) swung into action, putting together a dream PA system and running it on the evening of the event. The West Side Recreation and Park District "the Rec" provided twenty paid volunteers to monitor the perimeter of the drop zone and direct people to where it was safe to park or sit. They also assisted in the "break-down" and clean-up after the show. A special thanks to Director Don Koenig and his wife Sandy,Supervisors Les Clark and Tessa Pilgrim who supervised the volunteers, making sure they were comfortable and hydrated. Kenny Schuyler and Jessica Emfinger who have been part of the drive for the Fireworks Show for the past year, solicited volunteers who came and gave their time to organize, set up,assist guests, take money, and answer questions. There were too many of them—many of whom we know only by first names— to list here, but they were awesome!
Page 2 of 2 - Our vendors were incredible! Imagine coming out in 108° weather, not knowing whether you would make money—or even break even! They came, and they were rewarded by the fine folks of Taft.
A special recognition goes out to our City of Taft Public Works Department who made sure the Monument and the surrounding areas were spotless and clearly-marked for the visitors to the area. Our law enforcement was visible. A special thanks goes out to the Taft City Police Department and the Kern County Sheriff's Department, who worked together to keep the event safe for all.
Now, for our Kern County Fire Department. We have been working with Battalion Chief Brent Moon for the better part of a year. It was he who assured us nearly one year ago that the Rail to Trails venue was a possibility for a fireworks show in our town. He kept his word, shepherding this idea—complete with accompanying paperwork, training, and meetings—to a successful conclusion. It was wonderful to enjoy the evening knowing he was there enjoying it also.
No thank you would be complete without acknowledging the support of the Chamber membership and our Board of Directors. Our Board was willing for the staff to take the time necessary to do a complete event for the citizens of Taft. They felt the goal of a fireworks show paid for by the people and businesses of Taft could be done. They were right! Congratulations, Taft! We did it! Next year.....