Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

No American Pie on July Fourth? Chamber Getting out of Celebration

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

No American Pie on July Fourth? Chamber Getting out of Celebration

Article excerpt

Byline: R. Michael Anderson, County Line staff writer

The American Pie Fourth of July Celebration in Orange Park may have had a short run.

The board of directors of the Clay County Chamber of Commerce, the main sponsor and organizer of the festive outdoor party on the banks of the St. Johns River, voted Thursday to call it quits after three years.

John Tabor, the chamber's newly elected president and chairman of the Fourth of July event last year, said the "overwhelming majority" of the board voted to end the chamber's role in the event so that more attention could be paid to the organization's basic mission.

"While it's a great event and we've enjoyed putting it on," Tabor said, "it was an increasing feeling on the part of most of the board that our primary focus and attention should be in areas that were more directly related to the recruitment and retention of businesses."

The decision comes shortly after the chamber was restructured and hired a new executive director and a new tourism development chief.

"Our focus is on business development and bringing new businesses to the county and growing and developing businesses that are here," Tabor said. "It really comes down to a matter of resources and how those resources are employed and what the focus of our staff is."

Chamber staff and officers devoted many hours to planning and organizing and scheduling the patriotic holiday event, which last year included a parade, extensive security provided by the Orange Park police and Clay County Sheriff's Office, about 50 or 60 exhibitors and vendors, a river cruise during the evening fireworks show and entertainment throughout the day.

Now, unless some other organization steps in to fill the void there may not be a fourth American Pie Fourth of July Celebration.

"It would be my hope that another community organization would step up and be willing to take on this event," Tabor said. "The chamber would be happy to help with the transition."

Meanwhile, the Orange Park Town Council has allocated $24,500 for a Fourth of July fireworks show again this year and Town Manager John Bowles said that he had no reason to think the show would not go on. …

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