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Johns Keeps July 4 Fireworks in Phoenixville

Karen Johns raised the necessary funds to put on the annual Fourth of July fireworks display this year and last.

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 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: , , , and Susquehanna Bank each donated $2,500 towards the show.

Johns added that John Colarusso–owner of –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.

Cynthia Krommes June 26, 2012 at 11:28 AM
Karen you are a wonderful gift to our town. You're probably already doing this, but would it be possible to take a donation at the fireworks this year -- maybe even a suggested donation -- to go towards the cost for next year? Again, THANK YOU!
Pamela Gates June 26, 2012 at 12:24 PM
My Hat goes off to you Karen, This is a fun filled event each year ! The plans keep getting bigger & BIGGER!!! When the borough asked you to put together the plans for this event I knew you could do it..it was a HUGE undertaking for you ! You manages to raise the funds in time ... But ,you have lots of hutsba ...you still keep amazing me everyday. God Bless You Karen!!! I hope that you have everything in life you want, Friends , Family & Love. I look forward to MORE OF YOUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS ! This one Dad would be very proud of ... Thanks again from the bottom of our hearts ! Pamela, Steven ,Bryana, Adryana Gates
Nichole Stec June 26, 2012 at 12:42 PM
Every year we watch these fireworks and take them for granted.... I guess I never take the time to realize how much work Karen does to make this happen. A great big thank you from my entire family!!!!! Phillip, Nichole, Jake, Sophia and Olivia Stec!
Richard June 26, 2012 at 12:48 PM
Fantastic effort, thank you. It's a tradition that I'm happy will continue.
Barb June 26, 2012 at 01:14 PM
Thank you for all your hard work Karen. And thank you to all the people and companies that also contributed. I look forward to seeing the fireworks
Peter C. Brown June 26, 2012 at 02:03 PM
Yeah Karen. I did not know, but keep up the great job!
Karen June 26, 2012 at 02:08 PM
Thank you, Tom, for your work on Phoenixville Patch and for the promotion on our annual 4th of July fireworks event. The program is the successful result of many generous institutional and business benefactors, private donors, tireless volunteers, and various departments within the borough. In the timeline of the fundraising events, it is important to note the monetary gift presented by the Phoenixville Jaycees during the 2012 Dogwood Parade is the moment which helped us to reach our contractual goal. The Jaycees were very proud to have put the fundraising efforts over the top! Just a few corrections (due to my raspy voice, I'm sure!), to several names. Cami Johns, is a volunteer, and former Council member, Ken Buckwalter is among our donors. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Borough Manager Jean Krack, the Police, Fire, and Recreation Departments for their work on this project as well as Phoenixville Borough Council for giving our team the opportunity to be of service to our community! Karen Johns
Tom Sunnergren June 26, 2012 at 05:24 PM
Thank you Karen! Corrections noted. And I look forward to seeing you at the show.
Laura Schwartz June 26, 2012 at 05:50 PM
Karen is an amazing woman and surely shines her light under a bushel. I never knew she was involved in this. I want to offer thanks from every person who has enjoyed the fireworks spectacular, most especially our youngest citizens, whose delight in the magic makes for wonderful life-long memories. Kudos to Karen and her team!
Judith Axten June 26, 2012 at 06:16 PM
Thanks to you, Karen, and your family for pulling this all together. The kids ( and grown ups) love it! Judi, Jeff, Ben, Soph & Sammy Axten
Karen June 26, 2012 at 06:37 PM
Didn't have time earlier to respond to the suggestion and comments, but I'm back home now! Cynthia, we do plan to have volunteers walk through Friendship Field prior to the start of the fireworks to collect donations! Thank you for helping make the public aware, and if anyone wants to help out, my family and I will be sitting on the hill by the entrance into the field. We will have some buckets available. In my haste earlier I forgot to mention one other borough department which is very busy in preparations for the event. A big "thank you" to the Public Works department for all you do! And, thank you to everyone who commented, and please consider posting news of the event to your friends and family. Lastly, the rain date is July 5th! Enjoy!
Kristen Caperila June 27, 2012 at 12:45 AM
Karen, You are a gift to Phoenixville and it is always a pleasure to help you!!! Kristen, Joey & Gia Caperila
LocalGirl June 29, 2012 at 09:27 PM
Karen-- We join in the chorus of how amazing you are. Folks, please come out and support the Friendship Dive-Rescue Team, who will be selling their glowing novelties as in previous years. It is our main fundraiser for the year, so please suppport us, and again to Karen-- thank you for making this opportunity happen for us, year after year.
David Curran June 29, 2012 at 10:23 PM
Our family will not be able to make it, but thanks so much. There cannot ever be enough citizens like you. The. Currans

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