Weeks ago, St. Thomas Carnival Committee officials spoke to senators about the cancellation of the annual Carnival fireworks finale due to a lack of funds, but private sponsors have joined forces to save the show.
Producers of the Fireworks by Grucci spectacular announced Monday that SmartNet and Alliance Data Services, along with a group of other small businesses, have fronted the funds needed to bring back the program, which is once again scheduled for May 2.
Carnival Committee chairman Kenneth Blake told senators during a hearing March 28 that officials had decided to forego fireworks and cut back on entertainment this year, due to the government’s budget shortfall, which has grown to $145 million for the year.
The V.I. Carnival Committee has received $400,000 out of $545,000 appropriated for the year, Carnival Committee Chair Kenneth Blake testified during the March hearing. At the time, Blake added that the committee has been trying to secure sponsorships to try to bridge the shortfall.
Blake also made the announcement about the fireworks’ cancellation on a local television show, which the program’s producer, Steve Bornn, said caught the attention of SmartNet and Alliance Data Services president Michael Carty.
“Carty, who operates one of the leading local Internet service providers and data service companies, then pledged a sizeable amount and challenged fellow businesspersons to join him in the charge to save the fireworks,” Bornn said in a news release Monday.
Residents calling in to local radio stations helped draw support, while Smart Net employees and other sponsors – including Jimez Ashby of A-9 Trucking, Horace Callwood and Ray Francis of School Busing Inc. – chipped in.
“We at SmartNet and Alliance are proud and honored to make a difference in this very important part of our cultural celebration,” Carty said in Monday’s statement. “We could not let something so symbolic and significant as the fireworks be removed from our tradition. If you have the ability to do something positive for the community no matter how small or large, you do it… period.”
Grucci is known for its precision-fireworks displays, including recent programs in Dubai and Baltimore for “The Star Spangled Banner Bicentennial.”
This year’s Carnival display will kick off on May 2 at 9 p.m. According to the release, it will be staged from a barge strategically placed in the cove across the harbor from the Carnival Village. Boats anchored in the area will be required to relocate from the restricted zone.