PARDEEVILLE — In some years, it’s hard to find a spot along Pardeeville’s streets to watch the Fourth of July parade, or to get a picnic table in Chandler Park for Independence Day afternoon festivities.
But one of Columbia County’s largest community Independence Day observances — and certainly one of the largest that is, in most years, held on July 4 — is in mortal danger, Village President Bob Becker said.
Becker also is vice president of the Pardeeville Fourth of July Committee.
And he’s not exaggerating, he said, when he declares that the village’s Fourth of July activities — all of them — might not happen in 2013 unless a lot more volunteers step forward.
No live music in the park. No beer tent or concession stand. No fireworks. Maybe no parade.
Whether any of the festivities happen on July 4, 2013 (a Thursday), or whether any or all are cancelled due to lack of volunteers, will likely be decided in a public meeting of the Fourth of July committee at 6 p.m. Thursday in the Pardeeville Village Hall, 114 Lake St.
“We’re going to decide, hopefully, what we’re going to do,” Becker said.
Rhonda McGuire has never experienced a Pardeeville Fourth of July.
She and her family moved to Pardeeville in November, she said, and one of the ways they chose Pardeeville over other Wisconsin communities was because it offers family-oriented community activities like the Fourth of July.
She got active in the Fourth of July Committee to meet new people and get involved in the community.
But when she attended the committee’s January meeting — where she was elected secretary — she said she was astonished at the low turnout (about 11 people) and the difficulty of recruiting volunteers.
“Everybody says, ‘Somebody else will do it’ — then nobody shows up to do it,” she said.
Money is one challenge that planners are facing, Becker said. Last July 4, when the weather was hot even by the standards of summer, and so dry that the fireworks were postponed to the Watermelon Festival in September, the Fourth of July lost $7,200. That can’t continue forever, Becker said.
But what is needed even more than money, he said, is a substantial number of volunteers.
Without estimating how many people would have to step forward, Becker ran down a partial list of tasks for which volunteers would be required: operating the beer concession, organizing and supervising children’s games in Chandler Park and ensuring that roads are blocked before the parade.
McGuire said volunteers are needed now, even though the Fourth of July is about five months away. Volunteers are needed to help plan events, and to work with other volunteers who would help make the events happen.
Becker said even volunteers who work on the Fourth of July can count on putting in some hours.
“If you want to do it right, if you’re going to be on the committee, you have to figure you’ll be working the day before, the day of and the day after,” Becker said.
There have been years, Becker said, when Pardeeville’s Fourth of July festivities have not happened due to lack of volunteers — and people inevitably ask why.
In the community where McGuire grew up — Wheeling, Ill. — a weeklong “Family Fest,” with carnival rides, live music and games, surrounded the Fourth of July. She said the event is no longer held, because not enough volunteers could be found.
The Pardeeville Fourth of July Committee already is getting some buzz on its Facebook page, www.facebook.com/Pardeeville4thOfJuly?fref=ts.
One local group has declared on Facebook that “we are more than happy to help support any way we can.”
That’s a positive sign, Becker said, if there is follow-through. It’s been his experience, however, that some people say they’re willing to help, but are daunted by the time commitment.
McGuire said she hopes to experience her first Pardeeville Fourth of July next summer.
“As a town,” she said, “we need to come together.”