Ithaca, N.Y. — Less than four days before fireworks lit up the Ithaca night sky, Vicki Taylor Brous had a problem.
Taylor Brous knew that the fireworks celebration, which she organizes, was several thousand dollars in the hole. But Taylor Brous also knew that she couldn’t go through the usual channels to raise money — those resources, she said, were rightly being directed to help the victims of the Simeon’s crash.
Taylor Brous instead turned to people she knew. It wasn’t clear if the strategy would pan out.
“You just got to believe and go forward, and you have to be willing to take that risk,” said Taylor Brous, the associate director of the Downtown Ithaca Alliance. “There comes a point when you just have to go for it.”
The strategy paid off. Taylor Brous got welcome news the night of Monday, June 30: Someone she knew was stepping into the breach. The donor, who has requested to remain anonymous, would cover the remainder of the fireworks’ costs.
That donation — in addition to being crucial to the fireworks — helped fundraisers focus on directing the community to helping those hurt by the Simeon’s accident, according to Taylor Brous.
“It was a relief,” Taylor Brous said.
On July 3, around 10 p.m., hundreds of fireworks went off for about 35 minutes, according to Taylor Brous.
Taylor Brous watched from Stewart Park.
“There are so many generous people in the community … who step up in times of need,” Taylor Brous said, “and I’m always grateful for them.”
Taylor Brous cited Mayor Svante Myrick in explaining why the fireworks display was so important to preserve.
“When the mayor approached me about putting on the fireworks a few years ago, he said, ‘It’s the one night where everyone can get together regardless of their income level under one sky and see the same thing,’” Taylor Brous said, “so it’s very important that the event be something people can enjoy.”
She added that the show may have had an added weight after this year’s tragedy.
“I think it’s a way for people to have a little normalcy after an accident to come together,” Taylor Brous said.
The day after the fireworks went off on July 3, Taylor Brous went back to where they’d been launched. Alone, she raked the area for five hours, cleaning up the debris.
“That’s how I spent my July 4,” she said with a laugh.