ENTHUSIASTIC SISTERS-IN-LAW VOLUNTEER TO TAKE OVER FUNDRAISING DUTIES WITH OSOYOOS FIREWORKS COMMITTEE
Posted on 14 March 2013 by Keith Lacey
\If enthusiasm counts for anything, Annette Star and her sister-in-law Etta-Mae Pratt are going to have plenty of success as the new fundraising co-ordinators for the Osoyoos Fireworks Committee.
“We’re really looking forward to it,” said Star, who moved to Osoyoos from Calgary 12 years ago. “I’ve lived in this town for 12 years and never missed the Canada Day fireworks. I know it’s a big part of what happens in this town every year, so I’m looking forward to taking this on.”
After 17 years of not only organizing the annual Canada Day fireworks in Osoyoos – which is now the second-largest fireworks display on Canada’s national holiday next to the one in Ottawa – Frank Zandvliet announced recently he was stepping down from the fundraising aspect of the job.
Zandvliet will still be heavily involved. He’s a certified pyrotechnical expert and will continue his volunteer job of ordering all the materials and setting up the annual fireworks display, but he wanted a break from putting in the long hours needed to collect donations from local business owners and citizens.
Town councillor Sue McKortoff, who is past president of the Osoyoos Cherry Fiesta Committee, announced two weeks ago that Zandvliet was stepping down as fundraising co-ordinator and asked someone or organization from the town to step forward to fill his big shoes.
Ironically, Star is a friend of Zandvliet’s and had hinted in the past that she was more than willing to help in any way possible in helping him organize one of this town’s most celebrated annual events.
“I had told Frank in the past that I wanted to get involved,” said Star. “After reading in the paper that they needed somebody to step forward to take over the fundraising, I mentioned it to my sister-in-law and she was as excited as I was and we decided to step up.
“We contacted Frank and here we are. We can’t wait to get started.”
Pratt feels the same way.
“Fireworks are one of my favourite things and the ones in Osoyoos on Canada Day are incredible,” she said. “I’ve only been here for three years, but I know it’s a major event in this town and I wanted to be part of that. When Annette asked me if I wanted to get involved and help her with the fundraising, I didn’t hesitate for a second.”
For many years, Zandvliet has organized a long list of regular donors and he will hand over that list to Star and Pratt, who will officially start their fundraising campaign the first week of May.
“We’re going to take the list and go door-to-door just like Frank did and hopefully we’ll get the same kind of response,” said Star, who operates her own accounting services business out of her home in Osoyoos. “We’re also going to set up a Pay Pal account before we get started in May.
“We know there are a lot of regular donors from Vancouver and all over the province who regularly donate a few bucks and they will be able to access the Pay Pal account instead of sending their cheques to the town like they have for many years.”
Zandvliet says he can step down as fundraising co-ordinator knowing these ladies are enthusiastic and will do a wonderful job.
“They have a great attitude and they really want to do this, so I’m excited,” he said. “I’ve put in a lot of long hours collecting money for the fireworks over the years and it was time for somebody else to step in.
“I’ve known Annette for a few years and she’s got a great attitude and I know her and Etta-Mae are going to make a terrific team. I’m hopeful they will get the same kind of terrific response from local businesses that I’ve received over the past 17 years.”
While not revealing the annual budget, Zandvliet said it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out putting on the second-largest fireworks display in the country on Canada Day involves raising a significant amount of cash.
“Everyone in this town is proud of our fireworks, but they don’t happen every year without the amazing support of the people and business owners in town,” he said. “We’ve had over 30,000 people attend our fireworks the last two years and that’s truly amazing for a small town like ours.
“We get people from all over B.C. and a lot from Alberta and the western United States who come to Osoyoos to check out the fireworks, so it’s a big deal and not something we want to see go away.”
Star and Pratt say they plan on staying involved for years to come.
“Frank did it for 17 years, so I think we would like to beat his record and help out for 18,” said Star with her infectious laugh. “We’re really looking forward to helping out.”
McKortoff said she’s thrilled the enthusiastic sister-in-laws have stepped up to the plate.
“I’m delight that Annette and Etta-Mae are on board and I know all members of town council are delighted because filling Frank’s shoes isn’t going to be easy,” she said. “This is a huge job and an important one because the fireworks in Osoyoos are such a big event and we certainly didn’t want to see anything happen to it.
“We hope these ladies get the same kind of great response from the community that Frank has had. I have no doubt they will.”
Star says she knows she and her sister-in-law have big shoes to fill because Zandvliet is a very well-known and popular man in town, but they’re looking forward to their new volunteer position.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun because the people in town really love the fireworks and so many different people help out.”