A local promoter’s effort to raise enough money for an Independence Day fireworks show in Ahwatukee has fizzled out as some frantic last-minute fundraising failed to garner even a quarter of the money he needs to hold the show.
Tim Matykiewicz, a longtime Ahwatukee resident and president/CEO of Arizona Events Group, had raised only $3,300 of the $18,500 he figured he needed to stage fireworks show on July 2 at Desert Foothills Park and a concurrent festival in a nearby strip mall with the help of Native Grill and Wings on Chandler Boulevard.
On Wednesday, June 21, he officially gave up his dream and declared that those people who did give money will get it back.
"We've decided to suspend the Fireworks Fest fundraising campaign and plan early for next year or assist the Chamber with Red, White and Boom," Matykiewicz told AFN. "All donations will be refunded from our gofundme account. It takes three to seven days for refunds.
"I'm very disappointed we couldn't make this happen," he added.
Though resigned, Matykiewcz tried to remain upbeat during an interview on Monday.
“We had a good day Friday,” he said. “We raised $1,000. Had a good day Saturday and Sunday, but we’re well short of our goal. I’m 70 percent sure I’m going to have to drop it.”
Matykiewicz said his logistics for the event had been completed. "Applications for permits were prepared and fireworks were ordered," he said, lamenting the fact he "just had too short of a time to raise funds."
"We're not giving up on our Ahwatukee community, just starting earlier," he added.
Matykiewicz had hoped to continue a 41-year tradition of an Ahwatukee Independence Day celebration after the Ahwatukee Foothills Chamber of Commerce announced last month that it could not afford to hold its Red, White and Boom! festival this year.
Chamber President/CEO Lindy Lutz Cash said the chamber had been planning to co-host the event with an unidentified organization, but that potential partner pulled out at the last minute. Moreover, even had the partner not pulled out, the fest likely would have had to be held outside Ahwatukee because South Mountain Freeway construction eliminated the staging site for the fireworks show.
Matykiewicz said he had to secure city permits for his event, and was planning to use rockets that incinerated 300 feet in the air, eliminating the possibility of embers falling on nearby homes.
The applications for those permits had to be submitted to the city 10 days before the event, making Thursday, June 22, the drop-dead deadline.
Matykiewicz said he didn’t want to wait until the last minute to submit permit applications because “that’s not the way I do things.”
“I just don’t like putting the city in that position and filing the applications at the last minute,” he said last week.
Matykiewicz is no stranger to staging public spectacles; it’s been his livelihood for 20 years.
While he’s been on two Super Bowl planning committees and is a life member of the Fiesta Bowl Committee, his full-time job these days is putting on the Arizona Balloon Festival, which will be held for the seventh consecutive year next February in Goodyear.
Matykiewicz said he also had “run into some issues with the liquor license” he and Native would need to serve alcohol in the parking lot of the strip mall at East Chandler Boulevard and Desert Foothills Parkway before, during and after the fireworks show.
The plan was to sell food and beverages and offer vendors, bounce houses and other family attractions similar to what the Ahwatukee Chamber offered at a pre-fireworks show it had held the last two years in Pecos Park. That festival also is now canceled.
Pleas for donations on social media appeared to spark much support on Matykiewicz’s gofundme.com site.
Most donors kicked in $5 to $20 while six contributed $250 each and several others about $100 each.
“All the money will be returned to the donors if I decide to cancel,” Matykiewicz said.
While Ahwatukee residents likely won’t find a fireworks show in their backyard, they won’t have far to travel to several. Rawhide plans its annual show for July 1 while Chandler, Tempe and Mesa all plan to hold their fireworks shows on July 4.
A full preview on upcoming shows will appear in the June 28 edition of AFN.