Southern Vermont Town Pitches In To Avoid Fireworks Funding Fiasco

Jun 29, 2018

On Saturday, the town of Vernon will put on its annual Independence Day fireworks show. But paying for this year's pyrotechnics was no easy task.

Vernon is home to the now-decommissioned Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant, and for years, the plant's owner, Entergy, footed the bill for the fireworks display at the southeastern Vermont town's annual picnic.

But Vermont Yankee shut down in 2014, and Entergy cut off its fireworks funding. For the next few years, Vernon tapped private donations and public funds to pay for the fireworks. 

However at the town selectboard meeting on June 5 of this year, it became apparent that some of the money earmarked for the fireworks actually couldn't be used until the next fiscal year.

The town was about $3,000 short of the $5,000 it owed to the fireworks company, and it had less than a week to come up with the cash.

The town picnic tradition looked to be in peril.

Hannah Gantt took to the Vernon, Vermont Facebook group to keep residents up to speed as the fundraiser progressed.
Credit Facebook Screenshot

Enter Hannah Gantt, Vernon resident and volunteer organizer of the town picnic. After the June 5 selectboard meeting, Gantt launched a last-ditch effort to raise the money.

"I prayed an awful lot that God would encourage people's hearts to donate," Gantt said. "And that's exactly what happened. So even if people only had a dollar to give, they did that." 

Thanks to donations big and small, Gantt pulled together more than enough money by June 12 to pay for the fireworks.

Gantt said the town picnic is a special event for Vernon.

"It's the one time of the year where the town really comes together," Gantt said. "And it's also a way that we draw other people into our town to show that, you know, as a little town we do have something to offer."

The Vernon Town Picnic will be held Saturday, June 30, and will feature wagon rides, a chili cook-off and — of course — fireworks.

Update 7/02/2018 2:29 p.m. According to the Vernon, Vermont Facebook page Entergy contacted "Patty Lawler O'Donnell" and donated $2,500 toward the firework fund on June 15, 2018.