The first mention of the Crozet Fourth of July Firemans’ Carnival in local newspapers dates to 1926. It started as a fundraiser for the volunteer fire department. We are just three years away from the event’s centennial.
It’s not clear what year the parade started, but we know it was happening after the end of World War II. That’s approximately 77 years.
The parade and fireworks show celebrate American freedom and Crozet’s wonderful community and the values that make it that way. What values are those? Primarily, self-reliance and love of neighbor. When your neighbor needs your help, you show up. When he doesn’t, you stay out of his business.
Crozet developed this outlook because it was largely ignored. We needed fire protection, so we organized the Crozet Volunteer Fire Department (in 1910). We needed an ambulance service, so we organized the Western Albemarle Rescue Squad. We needed a park and a swimming pool, so we organized Crozet Park (and we still own it to this day). We needed a town hall forum, so we organized the Crozet Community Association. We needed an organization that could raise funds for civic purposes, so our businesses formed the Crozet Board of Trade (which takes its name from an early 20th-century Crozet association that had same goal of increasing the town’s prosperity and unity). We wanted our kids to have a Little League season, so we formed the Peachtree League. We wanted our neighborhoods to be connected by nature paths, so we formed the Crozet Trails Crew. The county built us a library building, but we wanted it to have books and chairs and computers, so we raised the money ($1.3 M) to provide all the interior contents.
The point is that we don’t look to someone else, like local government, to provide for our needs. We do what we can, and see how far we can get. This leads to the third Crozet virtue, community volunteerism. If you want to experience how truly great a place Crozet is to live in, choose a cause and participate in it with your neighbors. If your cause isn’t organized yet, get on it.
In 2010, after the town’s population had doubled in 10 years, the exhausted firemen, whose call rate had doubled too, gave up running the event. Crozet’s civic organizations combined to replace their manpower and keep the tradition alive. Now we are at another inflection point.
We have always paid for our fireworks. Our 15-minute, 3-inch-tube show customarily cost about $10,000. This year the price doubled to $20,000. Thank you, inflation. Next year, we are warned, the same show will cost $30,000. The fireworks company requires a deposit of half the cost in January to reserve the date. That’s been raised and paid. But the rest of this year remains, as well as the upcoming deposit. If you divided that cost by the population of Crozet, presently about 10,400, the rough cost of the fireworks to a family of four is about $12. Historically, if you look at who contributed, it was the same long-timers who have always stepped up. They love Crozet and its traditions, its values. Now we need a broad, community-wide base of support. The donations collected at the gate cover the set-up costs of the event. If there’s extra, that’s donated to our volunteer organizations afterward.
The parade and fireworks show are not just America’s birthday party. In Crozet, they allow us to exemplify our values and to prove them to our newcomers, whom we invite to join in actively in the life of the town. It’s the one event in the year that brings out everybody and connects us in celebration.
Please consider giving to the cause—it’s tax deductible. If you like the convenience of an online gift, go to the GoFundMe page. If you give directly to the Crozet Board of Trade, your gift will be acknowledged. Send a check made out to the CBT to P.O. Box 261, Crozet, VA 22932. Many people will expect someone else to bear the cost, so please be generous. Thanks in advance.
Make Crozet your true hometown. Love it and feel the love come back.