Fireworks spark community drive

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west paris – Jack and Wendy Newmeyer are a couple of can-do individuals. In 2001, Jack suggested fireworks to the West Paris selectmen as a way to bring more people to Old Home Days, the town’s annual festival.

“We figured if we’d ride over to Harrison to see their fireworks, maybe a lot of people just like us would come with that kind of a draw,” Wendy Newmeyer said.

Selectmen thought fireworks would be too expensive, estimating the cost at $4,000. Jack Newmeyer looked into it and found a local company, Central Maine Pyrotechnics, that would put on a display for $1,800. That seemed doable, so Jack challenged Wendy to raise the money. A woman with a mission, she had no trouble asking area businesses and individuals to donate any amount they felt comfortable with, completely believing fireworks would help the fair grow and benefit the town.

Wendy raised $1,780 that first year. While she was in the town office depositing the money, the clerk gave her a $20 donation, bringing her total to exactly $1,800.

Fascinated with fireworks since boyhood, Jack asked if he could help with the show. The company outfitted him with a fireproof suit, and he was able to set up the fireworks and light them. One problem – he couldn’t see the show. Fireworks are lit with flares, one after the other, so there’s no time in between to watch them go off.

So far this year, Wendy has raised $2,800 and there are still some donations to come in. “It has become easier to raise funds each year,” she said. “The show will be bigger than ever because there’s no carryover from year to year. All the money donated goes into the fireworks.”

The fireworks show starts at dusk on Saturday, June 3, at the ball field. Old Home Days run this weekend from Friday through Sunday, June 2-4.

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