The show will go on

Private firm, Ports America Chesapeake, will pick up the tab for this year's July 4 Inner Harbor fireworks

May 12, 2010|By Chris Kaltenbach, The Baltimore Sun

Even a $121 million budget deficit won't be enough to keep the rockets' red glare from shining over Baltimore's Inner Harbor this Fourth of July.

A private firm, Ports America Chesapeake, has agreed to sponsor this year's Inner Harbor fireworks display, Mayor Stephanie C. Rawlings-Blake announced Wednesday. Ports America Chesapeake, which has sponsored the New Year's Eve fireworks at the Inner Harbor for the past three years, operates the port of Baltimore's Seagirt Marine Terminal in partnership with the Maryland Port Administration.

Praising the company as a "local partner that stepped in to save another Baltimore tradition," Rawlings-Blake said jokingly that her next goal is to persuade Ports America Chesapeake to sponsor a St. Patrick's Day fireworks display. "We need a trifecta," she said, turning to company officials.

Ports America Chesapeake is spending $200,000 to sponsor the two fireworks displays this year, company president and CEO Mark Montgomery said. Rawlings-Blake contacted the company about sponsoring the July 4th fireworks in April, company officials said.

"It was a good call to take and a great honor for our company," Chairman Christopher Lee said.

Rawlings-Blake, who has spent much of her time since taking office Feb. 4 struggling to find ways to close that $121 million budget gap, had proposed eliminating money for the fireworks and other celebrations in her preliminary operating budget. While calling herself "a fan of the fireworks," she said that "the city must live within its means."

The mayor praised companies like Ports America Chesapeake for stepping forward to help out, and said she hopes more would follow their example.

"We have to get creative in these times," she said. "This is a good example of that."

This year's fireworks display is scheduled to begin at 9:30 p.m., weather permitting. The Inner Harbor festivities July 4 will also include free performances at 2 p.m. by the jazz band Lovecraft and at 8 p.m. by the U.S. Naval Academy's Electric Brigade.

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