By Jill Richardson
The Melba Fourth of July celebration is a long standing tradition in the Treasure Valley. As a matter of fact, this year the 50th anniversary will be celebrated. It is amazing that such a tradition has lasted as long as it has.
This celebration has evolved from a community potluck wrapped up with a great display of fireworks 50 years ago, to a city funded annual event and to what it is now, a community event funded 100% by donations from the public. In an attempt to continue this fun family event after changes to available funding nearly two decades ago, the community organized a committee with help from local businesses.
Since that time, The Melba Olde Tyme 4th of July has been funded and put on solely by volunteers and donations from the community. It takes dozens of volunteers donating about 2080 man hours to pull this event off as the success it is known to be.
“It is worth it to spend on a day to do this together,” said Committee Chairman Sam Preisler. The cost of the fireworks presentation alone has gone from $500 to nearly $11,000 per year. And what a display it is. Over 1200 shells will be lit during this year’s 21 minute choreographed display. The firework display is so well known as a favorite in the valley that people plan from year to year to be in Melba on the 4th.
“We move things around the field and take people for a little ride,” said fireworks presenter Ron Wright. “It is new each year for everyone including those that come back every year.”
Generous donations from sponsors like Saltzer Medical, Coca-Cola, Leavitt Engineering, Pannell’s Drywall, DL Evans Bank, J&M Sanitation, Dunlap Hatchery, Jean Shurtleff and others, has helped with assurance of some resources each year. Year after year the volunteers have found ways to get the rest, including asking for donations from the public that comes to enjoy the celebration. “If each man, woman and child gave just one dollar as a donation we would recoup our costs for all the fireworks,” said Preisler. “Your donations directly support the fireworks. If we had to pay for all the things that are donated, this day would not happen.”
Don Pannell, of Melba, spends hundreds of dollars feeding and raising over 400 chickens each year for the chicken round-up, so that children can catch their own chicken and take it home, or perhaps find a new country home for it. $2,000 is spent just on porta potties alone.
The money that comes to this community on this day assists other organizations also. Without this celebration, things may look a bit different in town. Donations go towards the Melba Valley Senior Center, Melba Chapters of FFA, FCCLA. BPA, Cheerleaders, and of course customer patronage helps the local businesses.
“We want to see people keep this alive for us and the greater community,” said Wright. “We need everyone’s help to pull this
Donations can be made at local businesses in Melba prior to the 4th or on the day of the Celebration to designated volunteers who will be wearing special Red & White striped vests with the ‘Melba Old Tyme 4th of July Celebration’ logo embroidered on them or mailed to Melba 4th of July Celebration P.O. Box 44 Melba, ID 83641.