Michael Maurice O'Shaughnessy has the Golden Gate Bridge. Gustave Eiffel, the Eiffel Tower.
Karen Johns has the Phoenixville Fourth of July Fireworks Show.
For the second-consecutive year since the borough pulled funding, the former council member has raised the $14,000 necessary to finance the annual pyrotechnic spectacle the downtown has hosted since 1999. Though it hasn’t always been easy–the 2012 show wasn’t clinched until Johns was presented with a $2,500 check by Susquehanna Bank during the June 12 meeting of the borough council–Johns has ensured the tradition lives on.
“Phoenixville has always been lucky to have a supporter like Karen Johns,” said middle ward council representative Jenn Mayo. “We knew, of all the people in Phoenixville, that she could get the job done.”
Council president Richard Kirkner, before the presentation of the check, said he approached Johns about funding the fireworks privately once it became clear the borough would no longer be able to foot the bill.
“I wanted to see fireworks, and I thought, ‘Who can make fireworks [happen]?’” he said. “And the name that came up was Karen Johns.”
Johns herself, when asked to account for how a cancer-survivor–she was diagnosed with a rare form of breast cancer in December of 2009 and has undergone chemo, 67 radiation sessions, and a pair of surgeries since–managed to raise almost $30,000 in two years, deflects the credit.
“Courtney Harvey, Kristen Caperila, Bill and Suzanne McGinley, Michael Hill, Tony Riley, Stephanie Pontin, Kayla Johns, Pam Gates, Bryana Gates, Cami Johns, Sandy and Joe Horvath; we were blessed to have so much help from so many people,” she said over the phone, fighting through a lingering case of laryngitis she jokes makes her sound like Marilyn Monroe.
But while there were many small donors, Johns said the lions' share of the funds came from larger gifts: Phoenixville Federal Bank & Trust, Phoenixville Hospital, The Jaycees, and Susquehanna Bank each donated $2,500 towards the show.
Johns added that John Colarusso–owner of Petrucci’s–Tracy Wilke, Ken Buckwalter, Lowes, and the Phoenixville Area Business Association also made substantial donations.
But now, bills paid, she said can look forward to the Friendship Field fireworks display.
“Each year that we produce it, it’s so exciting. It’s just a fun-filled, family-oriented event,” she said. “Once you’re there, you can feel the excitement building before the show. And way the children react, I enjoy it.”
She said this year’s display, she has on good authority, should elicit some reactions.
“The pyrotechnician who is doing this years show”–D & M Fireworks–“has done work for the borough in the past, and he promises us this show will upstage and be even more exciting than last year’s."
Believe it: when Karen Johns says something, you can bet it's true.
Phoenixville's Annual Fourth of July Fireworks event will be held on Wednesday July 04, 2012 at Friendship Field, located at the corner of Fillmore Street and Franklin Avenue, from 9 p.m. to 9:15. Visitors may park in the lot behind the reservior at Reservior Park, Franklin Commons, or the Santa Anna Club and at the Bethel Baptist Church on Fairview Street. Refreshments will be available, but alcohol, drugs, and pets are not permitted.