LAWRENCE — Hurricane Arthur may have delayed Lawrence’s Independence Day party by a day, but at Veterans Memorial Stadium, the crowd was no less enthusiastic abiout celebrating on July 5.
For the first time, the city’s Rotary Club took over planning the event from the mayor’s office. President Diane Shikrallah has been working with fellow club members for two months to raise the money for the festival and coordinate logistics. The end result — about a dozen local food vendors, face painting, balloons, a civil war reenactment group, and a DJ playing on the field until the fireworks display. Near the entrance to the stadium, a car show was set up on the grass. Guests were able to vote for their favorite vehicle, and the owner of the winning car would get a prize.
“Two months was not a lot of time to put everything together, and when we made the decision to postpone we had to change the DJ,” Shikrallah said. “But for the most part, everyone said it wasn’t a problem. We didn’t want to take the chance with the auto show. Antique cars aren’t going to come out in the rain.”
Shikrallah said she was thrilled when Mayor Daniel Rivera asked the Lawrence Rotary Club to take over the July 4 celebration, because it is an opportunity for the group to make their presence known in town. Through a raffle and other fundraisers, Shakrallah hoped to net about $5,000 for the organization to provide services at home and abroad.
“Literacy is a big goal of ours,” she said. “We give a dictionary to every single third grader (at Lawrence’s Guilmette Elementary School) every year, for instance. These are the kinds of things we can do with the money.”
Shikrallah said last year’s event drew about 8,000 people, a number she hopes to reach as the Rotary Club continues to coordinate the celebration in the coming years.