Racing through their Twin Creeks neighborhood Tuesday looking like a red, white and blue-themed pep rally, about 20 Central Point kids were armed with neighborhood maps, patriotic flags, hats and big, endearing eyes.
Their mission was to use their charming little faces to rally support to ensure survival of the beloved “Matt’s Twin Creeks Fireworks Show,” which many of the local kids and teens have grown up attending.
With costs of the show increasing, the effort requires some fundraising to cover insurance and permits required for the show to go on.
Rebranded this year as “Big Daddy Boom,” the show has been put on by the Vranes family of Central Point since 2005. The effort began as innocently as the door-knocking and flyer campaign going down Tuesday.
An admitted Fourth of July buff from way back — even putting on shows as a kid — Matt Vranes wanted to see his family and close friends enjoy fireworks on Independence Day each year.
“I guess I got started when I was a kid and I just got to thinking, like, ‘How can I make these fireworks look cooler and go for longer?’ I took ladders and built these little structures and I just had fuses everywhere,” Vranes remembered.
“I’d light one fuse and see what it did. ... Over the years it’s gotten bigger and more exciting.”
The show kicked off with a sheet of plywood and a small supply of choreographed rockets. By last year it had expanded to 18 pieces of wood and a wholesale-sized heap of fireworks, which garnered attention from local entities.
Suddenly the casual neighborhood show required state fire marshal permits and event insurance due to increasing attendance, which cost more than the actual fireworks portion of the show.
Vranes and his wife, artist Jennifer Vranes, estimate the show costs around $15,000, with the lion’s share of funds going to insurance and permitting on the school-district-owned property on a field inside the Twin Creeks neighborhood.
The couple considered canceling the show a few years back to avoid the growing expense, but neighbors rallied and decided they would help with fundraising.
“The show must go on, I guess,” Vranes quipped Tuesday as he opened his front door for the kids to trickle down the front steps. Headed out to work their portion of the neighborhood, 10-year-old Lila Higginson and 12-year-old Gibson Hull were paired up and sporting the required patriotic attire. Both said they couldn’t imagine an Independence Day without the Vranes-family pyrotechnics show.
“We’re going to the pocket park area to drop off flyers. Everyone has an area,” explained Lila. “We’re helping raise money. It’s something I always look forward to doing with my family.”
Gibson said the event was a tradition worth saving.
“It’s a chance for a lot of people in our community to meet up and have a good time together,” said the boy.
While the show has grown, Jennifer Vranes said the family’s effort is not really any different than other residents buying legal fireworks and setting them off in a relaxed neighborhood setting.
“We’re doing the same thing as everyone else. We invite our friends, and we can’t help if they invite everyone they know,” she said with a chuckle.
The couple say the show is their version of Christmas in July, and it’s a fun time to see their neighbors, who enjoy the show in the soccer fields along Haskell.
The couple say it’s better to lie on a grassy lawn and watch fireworks directly overhead compared to the large-scale shows viewed from a distance.
Matt Vranes said he was grateful for the community’s appreciation of the show and grassroots efforts to keep things going.
“Honestly, if we didn’t have the whole village helping us, there’s no way I could do it all. When we first organized the flyers eight or nine years ago, we were just flying by the seat of our pants,” he said.
“We’re kind of afraid to do an official head count. We don’t want there to be even more rules. We’re just a family doing a fireworks show, and people show up and enjoy it.”
Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. Email her at email@example.com.