For 25 years, Richard Ide of Beulah has been gathering funds for Crystal Lake’s popular fireworks display, which carries an annual ticket of approximately $7,000. According to the Benzie County Sheriff’s Department, an estimated 10,000 people view the show from the village, from boats on the lake, and from homes on both the north and south shores of Crystal Lake.
The Village of Beulah provides the barge from which the display is launched, and Crystal Lake Marina provides a boat to tow the barge. Without the support and cooperation of the community and volunteers, there would be no celebration—and considering the huge crowds in Frankfort, many people have begun to realize the benefits of coming to Beulah instead for the Fourth of July.
Richard and his wife, Rose, have lived and worked in Benzie County for more than 40 years—they owned and operated the barbershop in Beulah—so they know nearly everyone, which makes them good at fundraising and organizing. He does the fundraising, while she does the organizing.
Richard personally visits about 120 businesses and individuals to collect donations for the fireworks. He begins sending letters asking for contributions from his winter home in Florida, and when he returns home to our fair shores, he starts his door-to-door solicitation about three to four weeks before the actual July 4th celebration. (Richard jokes that everyone knows he’s coming, and if he can’t find them on the first visit, they know he’ll be back.)
Though Richard is the primary fundraiser for the fireworks, he gives credit to his super duo volunteer team of Vicky and Kitty, who manage to collect a substantial contribution from people during the day. Meanwhile, Rose organizes Beulah’s Fourth of July parade. Look for her on the last float, distributing thousands of beads and waving to the crowds.
So far, the Benzie County Sheriff’s Department has had no serious problems with traffic control on this side of the lake, although some congestion does materialize at the corner of US-31 and M-115 as people return home from the Frankfort fireworks, so the use of River Road is encouraged.
Whichever town you choose to commemorate the birth of our nation, remember the efforts of all the good people of Benzie County who work hard to ensure glorious festivities for us all.