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Ice storm short changes Sparkles fundraiser

The Rotary Club of Guelph stands to lose as much as $15,000 as a result of the storm that forced the closure of Riverside Park and with it the Sparkles in the Park holiday fundraiser.

“Last year, we made over $30,000 at Sparkles in the Park,” event chair Gail Moore said in an email to the Tribune. “If we get back into the park on Dec. 31, we still hope to make about half of that thanks to the generosity of our display sponsors and park visitors.”

The annual fundraiser normally sees Riverside Park lit up with Christmas lights and sponsored light displays in the weeks leading up to New Year’s. In addition to sponsorships, Rotary volunteers typically collect donations from visitors to the park as they enter the gates.

While Rotary club members report that displays and wiring are in good shape in spite of the ice that blanketed the city on Dec. 22, Sparkles was closed because of tree damage in the park.

As of Dec. 27, it remained closed.

Murray Cameron, the city’s manager of parks and recreation, reported only that city staff are working to have the park reopened.

“The city will be removing trees and assessing the situation on Monday Dec. 30 and will advise Rotary at that time if we can proceed with the Sparkles New Year’s Eve fireworks display,” said Moore.

The fireworks display, scheduled for 8 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, is usually the grand finale of the event. But this year may be different.

A dozen Rotary members met Dec. 26 to discuss a contingency plan for the event – a plan that might see the light show extended through to Jan. 5, said Moore.

“But many details are being worked on before that becomes a sure thing,” she added.

Funds raised by the event support both local and international rotary projects.

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