by Lisa Tome
Wet weather forced the cancellation of the annual July 3 Salute to Veterans celebration in North East.
Logistical issues have cancelled it a second time.
After several weeks of work, the non-profit Salute to Veterans Committee members have determined that the event will not be held in 2013. They had hoped to host it during Labor Day weekend.
"We attempted to reschedule. We met weekly for three or four weeks (since the cancellation in July)," said Salute to Veterans Chair Matt Carter.
He explained that the committee spends about 10 months preparing for the event each year. They had just weeks to see if they could bring it to fruition on a new date. Carter said that the big considerations were funding, public safety, and whether or not the entertainment; bands which salute veterans, would be able to attend. He said that while the public turns out for the fireworks, the goal of the committee is to honor veterans. "Our primary focus is to honor veterans. The fireworks is the ending element. Our focus is the program," said Carter.
Committee members checked availability of veterans service organizations. "We had gaps in the program with availability of bands. They could not commit. And we could not get firm commitments in immediacy from (department of) veterans affairs," he said.
That was not the only snag.
Since the event is always held on July 3, leaderships and police officers can plan. Salute to Veterans uses officers from the Town of North East but also contracts with Maryland State Police and the Cecil County Sheriff's Office to hire off duty officers. "We fell 8-10 officers short (for Labor Day). We need them to man the intersections and work the grounds," said Carter. "It was pretty clear we were short on the program and short with security and safety."
So the plan for a Labor Day salute was cancelled.
"The committee works hard for 10 months planning this. It's a lot of work. We didn't cancel it lightly but a good, quality program is important to us. Safety and security are paramount to us," said Carter.
With final tallies still pending, he estimates that $8,000-$10,000 was spent for the July event which did not happen. That amount includes the deposit for the fireworks display, advertising, and other costs. He said that some companies were quick to refund what was spent. "We work with very responsible vendors. We were pleased to see that," said Carter.
The Salute to Veterans will be held July 3, 2014. The plan to honor Afghanistan veterans will be carried over from this year.