The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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July 13, 2013

Volunteers needed

CLINTON — Imagine the holidays in Clinton without thousands of lights sparkling against the night sky in Eagle Point Park. It's a scenario the Symphony of Lights board doesn't want to realize, but fears is closer than ever because of the declining number of volunteers.

The annual holiday lights festival hosted by the Jaycees has seen dwindling volunteer turnout for setup and tear down of the event. Partnered with a high number of board vacancies, the current board members worry what could become of the Symphony of Lights if the community does not become more involved.

Marketing chairman Jason Balinski said not holding the event for a year to regroup and garner more community support was suggested at a recent board meeting. While it's not a serious consideration for this winter's event, Balinski said the fact that board members floated the idea to suspend the event shows their frustration.

"I wouldn't say we're quite on the verge of giving it up like we did with the Fourth of July festival, but having seen that people picked up the Fourth of July festival, it would be nice to get people to pick us up before we fail to provide as good of an event as we have in the past," he said.

Work for the Symphony of Lights starts to gain momentum around July. Setup occurs for six weekends before the event debuts and tear down reaches into March.

For the past two years, the Ashford University baseball team made up 75 percent of the setup volunteers. The event's success also is tied to volunteer electricians. Without these volunteers, organizers said they would be hard-pressed to get the event up to snuff in time for Thanksgiving.

"We really want to maintain the quality of the event we put on. We don't really want to just put out 50 percent of the lights and have people upset that we only had 50 percent of the lights out. We'd rather put 100 percent up and have a successful event," Balinski said.

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