HAGERSTOWN — Donors have stepped forward to erase a $50,000 shortfall that threatened to cancel this year’s Salute to Independence Concert at Antietam National Battlefield, Maryland Symphony Orchestra officials announced Monday.
MSO Interim Executive Director April Dowler told about 25 people during a press conference at the battlefield that she was pleased the 26th annual concert and fireworks display would go on as planned.
Organizers announced six weeks ago that funding for the event was $50,000 short. Dowler said the annual show that celebrates July 4 costs about $229,000 to stage.
“The show will go on,” Dowler said. “I’m ecstatic. We called on the community to support this event and the community indeed supported it. It’s just amazing.”
Dowler said officials needed to raise the money by Monday to give vendors enough time to commit.
The MSO said March 23 that it had lost some of its corporate financial support and that the cash commitment from the National Park Service was in jeopardy.
As a result, officials initiated a Save Our Salute campaign to raise the money. The campaign included a four-hour Web-A-Thon on March 29 that was sponsored by The Herald-Mail. Dowler is married to Herald-Mail Editor and Publisher John League.
Antietam Cable Television volunteered a public service advertisement that urged the community to make donations. New sponsors, such as the FirstEnergy Foundation, also came forward to donate money.
Dowler said organizers can’t charge a fee for Salute to Independence because it is held at a national park.
Organizers said the event, which is estimated to draw about 35,000 people from the mid-Atlantic region, pumps roughly $800,000 into the local economy.
Several elected officials attended the press conference, including Washington County Commissioners Ruth Anne Callaham, Jeff Cline and William McKinley. Some speakers said that Monday was a great day because it marked not only the continuation of the Salute to Independence, but the death of Osama bin Laden.
Ed Wenschhof, acting superintendent of Antietam National Battlefield, said this year would be his 20th Salute to Independence. He used the press conference as an opportunity to thank the MSO for its fundraising efforts and the donors for their support.
“This is a testimony to this event and our county,” Wenschhof said. “We can once again wish our nation a happy birthday from these hallowed grounds.”