The city of Searcy will once again have a Fourth of July celebration after the Searcy Advertising and Tourism Promotion Commission gave approval Tuesday for up to $45,000 in A&P tax revenue to be spent on the event, which will include a fireworks show and concert.
Mayor Kyle Osborne made the request and said it was in conjunction with Searcy Beats and Eats organizers, who bring the community together for street festivals in the downtown area. The Fourth of July celebration will be held at the Searcy Event Center at 1300 Higginson St.
“We are in the process of fixing up the Event Center and having Beats and Eats out there for the Fourth of July for a huge concert and fireworks,” Osborne said. “We don’t know how many people that will bring in. If any of you remember, years ago when we used to have the events at the Event Center, it was standing-room only; it was packed, so I have no reason to believe that we cannot fill that place up again. A good concert and a fireworks show, they are not cheap.”
Commission Chairman Chris Howell said he feels “it’s a long time coming.”
“I think we have all been cooped up for a long time,” Howell said. “A big bash is in order.”
Osborne added that “everyone is ready to get out, there is no doubt about that.
Commissioner Tommy Centola brought up other cities in White County, such as Beebe and Pangburn, having celebrations.
“All the small towns around here are doing one,” Centola said. “There is no reason we shouldn’t.”
Mat Faulkner, one of the three Beats and Eats coordinators, pointed out that the cities in White County that have released plans for celebrations are planning on doing it Saturday since July 4 falls on a Sunday this year.
“So we are actually looking at holding it on the fourth to try to dodge some of that competition and try to attract some people in,” Faulkner said. “What we are kicking around is maybe having a community worship service out there preceding the Fourth of July fireworks show and music.”
Centola mentioned that holding it Sunday makes it possible for those who go to Independence Day events to attend the other community’s fireworks shows and still join in on Searcy’s celebration.
Osborne brought up the possibility of holding a Fourth of July celebration at the Event Center last year, but backed off the idea as COVID-19 spread and restrictions developed.
The city used to contribute to a Fourth of July fireworks show put on by Harding University, but that practice ended years ago. A payment statement from June 2005 showed that the city contributed $1,000 to the event that year and it was discontinued in 2006.
“The fireworks display held on the Harding campus was funded as a cooperative effort between Harding and several local businesses,” said Jonathan Murphy, then-director of Harding news services, in 2018. “The program was discontinued more than 10 years ago after several businesses were no longer able to participate.”
Councilman David Morris also told The Daily Citizen in 2018, when he was still mayor that he remembers back when Faith Assembly of God had a fireworks display in conjunction with its Summer Funfest when it was held at the Searcy Event Center, but it wasn’t on the Fourth of July.