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New Irish festival plans fundraiser for fireworks

Published February 14. 2019 12:28PM

A new Jim Thorpe Irish festival could also help keep another of the town’s popular traditions alive — Fourth of July fireworks.

Michael Rivkin, vice president of the Jim Thorpe Tourism Agency, said the organization has a plan to raise money for fireworks based on Pot-of-Gold Passport sales for the two-weekend Irish Fest on March 9-10 and 16-17.

According to the event’s website, that passport will cost $15 and features special discounts including $5 off Mauch Chunk Opera House shows from March 8 through March 17, menu items at local restaurants and pubs, plus 17 percent off at all participating shops.

“We’re planning to take $5 from each of those passport sales and put it toward a fireworks show in July,” Rivkin said last week. “We hope to sell 1,000 passports, and while that is an ambitious goal, we think over a four-day event that isn’t unreasonable.”

The American Legion Post 304 in Jim Thorpe announced in January that it would no longer be hosting its annual Stay At Home Festival in July, which included a fireworks show.

“We know it’s a longtime tradition, but we’re just tired of the hassles,” Commander Keith McQuait said. “It was a pretty unanimous decision by our committee. It just became obstacle after obstacle.”

Jim Thorpe Mayor Mike Sofranko said last week he was excited to see JTTA trying to come up with seed money to continue the fireworks.

“Our main concern,” Rivkin said, “was trying to see that there are fireworks in some capacity. For many children, that is the fireworks they see that year.”

As for the Irish Fest, it is set to feature musical performances throughout both weekends including the Faculty Brass, the Bethlehem-based Mackay Pipe Band’s drums and bagpipes, Jim Thorpe High School band director Eric Flowers on the bagpipes, and the Tartan Terrors and the Kilmaine Saints at Mauch Chunk Opera House.

Other highlighted events include the first Youth Celtic Fiddle Contest at the Stabin Museum & Café Arielle, a Kilt Party and “Best Legs” contest at the Stone Row Pub and Eatery on Race Street, an Irish-themed brunch at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church and a Celtic Brunch at Café Arielle.

“This event is not alcohol driven,” Rivkin told Jim Thorpe Borough Council on Thursday. “The whole purpose is to draw our usual festivalgoers that come from our three key markets, Philadelphia, New York and the Lehigh Valley, a reason to come in the heart of winter. We don’t see it as an event that requires additional police protection at this time. It will be in line with our WinterFest and Olde Time Christmas events.”

JTTA is also asking Jim Thorpe’s council for a reprieve on a service contract, which would have borough employees hang around 25 Irish banners around town for the festival.

The borough quoted JTTA $1,477.50 for the work.

“We’re requesting either a discount or for that to be taken care of entirely,” Rivkin said. “We’d appreciate any consideration given to this first-year festival. We’d really like to be able to put the money directly back into the community in July.”

Council said it would consider the request at a future voting session.

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