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Making 4th fun happen in Central Point

CENTRAL POINT — Facing down her second consecutive year coordinating the city's Fourth of July festivities, chamber member Debbie Saxbury is looking for a little freedom of her own — from the guaranteed stress-fest she'll have if no one steps forward to help put things together.

Just more than two months away, Saxbury's got plenty of ideas, resources to use and things to prepare — but few volunteers to make it all happen.

"Basically, nobody volunteers! I've sent stuff out asking for help, advertised in newsletters, you name it. I can't do it all myself. We're expecting 10,000 to 20,000 people this year and I've had no luck in recruiting any help," she said.

Not intending to be a one-woman army, Saxbury sent out a letter in recent weeks pleading for volunteers. All told, she's rounded up a total of four willing souls to pitch in.

She needs 10 more.

Having managed the festival for five consecutive years over a decade ago, she passed the torch when she adopted her son Jacob.

"Then, I guess the festival had really gone down the hill. No one was really taking care of it so I came back in and made it into a really united festival for the city," she said.

"Now I'm remembering that everyone likes the event but no one wants to help put it on."

To her credit, last year's festival was chock full of first-time activities, including a fun zone of jump houses and slides, and trolley service between the "fun zone" and a street fair near Pfaff Park.

Striving to make the city's festival better with each passing year, Saxbury has big plans for this year as well, including a youth band for the fun zone, F-16 jet flyovers and a visit from a local flying group.

"I've been working on the one coming up since one week after the last Fourth of July. I have five pages of things to do and I work on it every day!" she said.

All told, Saxbury is asking for help with events between now and Independence Day.

She's recruiting for citizens who'd like to help recruit parade participants, event sponsors and donations and participants for craft and food booths.

"We also need people to set up the day before and the day of. I've got pop-up tents to put up, decorating "¦ We have 96 dozen bottles of bubbles and chalk that go along the parade route for the big day." She added, "Like I said I've basically got five pages of things I still have to do. I work on it every single solitary day, but I'm already burnt out. All I'm asking for from the community is just a little help."

City Administrator Phil Messina said the city has dedicated parks and public works personnel to help with planning the event, but for the event to be a success, community involvement is crucial.

"Debbie has definitely taken the Fourth of July celebration under her wing and it's been light-years better than it has been," Messina said.

This year, she's got even bigger and better things planned. We need to find somebody to help her. The city has increased our financial commitment to the Fourth celebration and put a lot of time in as well "¦ so we're certainly with Debbie in hoping that more new faces show up."

Saxbury says it won't take much for the show to go on.

"If I had 10 good people that could help me "¦ I think we'd be alright."

To volunteer for this year's event, before, during or after, contact Saxbury, 664-3433.

Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. E-mail her at buffypollock@juno.com.