It is with much regret that I announce the Monte Foundation Fireworks show has been canceled in Santa Cruz County for 2013. I am a businessman first, a fundraiser second, and the numbers no longer make sense. Before I delve into greater detail, I would like to take everyone back to why the Monte Foundation started this event. The event was about a community coming together to raise money for the schools, and to take us back to when neighbors actually spent time with one another. It was a partnership between government, business, and the schools, each part needing the other to make the event happen. The Monte Foundation was never solely about handing out donations. The original vision was to encourage students to get involved in the community, and then rewarding their participation with donations to schools, athletic programs, and other youth organizations.
Unfortunately, over the past five years our successful partnerships have slowly broken down. School participation has dwindled to the point that seventy percent of ticket sales are turned in by only four local schools, and business sponsorship is at its lowest level in ten years. Furthermore, what was possibly the Foundation’s most important asset in the form of volunteered time from government agencies has disappeared and turned into the biggest expense. The combination of these three factors has meant that the Monte family has had to write a significant personal check to cover the deficit of the event. After four years of doing this and waiting for the other partners to step back up, my family decided we could not do it any longer. I looked for other places to do the show, and once again I ran into government inaction. I tried to scale it back to just a fireworks display with no actual “event,” and received no support from the State Park. The definition of “public service” has taken on a whole new meaning in the last twenty years.
So how do we bring the Monte Foundation Fireworks show back? If every person that sees the show just bought one ticket, regardless of where they watch from, we would be able to do the show. If we regained our sponsors in the business community we would have the necessary funds to pay the government bills and would be able to do the show. If the government agencies waived their fees we would be able to do the show. We need a revival of the partnership that successfully produced the show for the last eighteen years.
Five years after starting the show we found ourselves in a similar position. Through the leadership of then Aptos Supervisor Walt Symons, the support of then State Senator Bruce Mcpherson and Assemblyman Fred Keeley, Captain Ellis from the CHP, Sheriff Mark Tracy, the head of the State Parks, and longtime Monte Foundation supporter Susan Mauriello, we saved the event and kept it going. Recently, I asked one government official about getting all the current players in a room to once again discuss how to keep the event going; I was told I would never be able to get them all together. Welcome to the year 2013, not quite the same California as the year 1994.
The Monte Foundation, Monte Family, and Deluxe Foods of Aptos continue to support our community through donations, scholarships, and other sponsorships. Unfortunately, we just couldn’t continue the fireworks show without help.