When Palestine resident and local business owner Fernando Varela heard the city could not fund a fireworks show for residents this Fourth of July, he and other business owners decided to make it happen.
“The city should not go without fireworks,” Varela told the Herald-Press Tuesday. “I called DeWayne Williamson at Elliott Dodge, and [the city] contacted Ben E. Keith; they were all happy to do it.”
With road repairs, water system failures, infrastructure costs, and budget season looming, city officials had unofficially decided to cancel this year's fireworks show, which typically costs about $20,000.
“The sponsors contacted the city,” City Manager Leslie Cloer said Tuesday. “It makes me so proud the business owners in Palestine care so much about the community.”
Varela, through his All-Star Ford and All-Star Autoplex dealerships, joined DeWayne Williamson of Elliot Chrysler-Dodge, and Andrew Gregory of Ben E. Keith Beverages in donating $22,000 to the city for a fireworks show July 3 at Steven Bennett Park.
“I've lived in Palestine 25 years,” Varela said. “It's given me a lot, so I like to give back a lot.”
Varela said he and the other business owners wanted to donate enough to cover not only the fireworks, but also the wages of those working the event.
The fireworks show, through American Fireworks Company, costs about $17,000. The remaining $5,000 covers labor costs.
No time has been set for the 20-minute fireworks display, but Varela said he's confident it will be a good show.
“If you're going to do it, do it right,” he said.