While sitting at the Council meeting last week, listening to Mayor Kaptain explain the rationale behind partnering with Hoffman Estates for fireworks, I was reminded of one of his campaign themes:
One of the things I’ve always loved about Elgin is the sense of community. For a town of 108,000, it sure feels like a small town in that people know and look out for each other.
That’s not easy to say these days. More and more, people are isolated from their neighbors, or skeptical of neighbors with good intentions.
So do fireworks build community? And if so, can we build Elgin’s community spirit by having “Elgin” fireworks in Hoffman Estates?
I was relieved to hear that the proposed cost was relatively low – $15,000 was pledged during the meeting, which works out to less than 14 cents per Elginite. (Staff time, including police to direct traffic, has not been calculated yet.)
A community-planned and run event, such as the Jaycees were proposing, would definitely foster community. Volunteers who invest time and effort build relationships with each other, but also expand their community. They reach out through their extended networks to get additional help and to draw people to the festival. News of such events travels via social networks and through word-of-mouth. People are often proud of their contributions and want to share it with others.
While partnering with Hoffman Estates achieves the goal of blowing things up, I hope that the planners engage community groups to really bring Elgin into the event. Because that’s the point of any festival: providing a place for neighbors to come together and celebrate the community they share.
Any of us could go attend another community’s fireworks, but if we’re paying part of the bill, let’s make sure it’s truly an Elgin festival.