|The old Pioneer Resort and Marina is being demolished, and the site may be used for Fourth of July fireworks.|
By Miles Maguire
The skies over Pioneer Island may be full of bombs bursting in air and rockets red glare come July 4th if a plan to move the annual Oshkosh fireworks display gets the OK.
“The July 4th fireworks show has historically been held at the Miller's Bay/Monkey Island area in Menominee Park in conjunction with Sawdust Days,” said Parks Director Ray Maurer. But this year extensive road work on Hazel Street along the western edge of Menominee Park could pose a problem.
“City staff has discussed concerns regarding getting thousands of spectators to the fireworks show at Menominee Park in and out safely,” said City Manager Mark Rohloff.
Separately the Oshkosh Rotary Club has come forward with a proposal for a Fourth of July celebration at Leach Amphitheater and Riverside Park. This event would help fill the void created by the demise of Sawdust Days, which has been held at Menominee Park but is ending its run after 47 years.
With the focus of holiday activities moving to the riverfront, “city staff began discussing the possibility of relocating the fireworks show to Pioneer Island,” Maurer said.
The property owner, a Brookfield investment firm, and Art Dumke, the local developer who has an option on building at the site, have given their approval, officials said. Festival Foods, which covers half the cost of the fireworks, is also on board, according to the city, which pays for the other half of the show.
Wolverine Fireworks, the company the city contracts with, has agreed “to do the fireworks show off the island,” Rohloff said. The Coast Guard and the Winnebago County Sheriff's Department have also been apprised of the new location.
For the show the city plans to close Pioneer Drive “so we can have lots of people out there,” Rohloff said. “It wouldn’t hold too many cars anyway so we may as well make it accessible for people to watch the show.”
He said the city will be talking with downtown businesses to ensure there will be adequate parking. Rohloff hopes the event will have a positive spillover effect downtown and especially in the Sawdust District.
City records show Pioneer Island as a16-acre site, but about half of that space is devoted to a marina at the southern end of the property.
“People will have to pick their right vantage point for the Fourth of July and plan those things out,” Rohloff said. “I’ll certainly be eyeballing good locations to watch fireworks from.”
Both the Rotary proposal to use the Leach Amphitheater for Independence Day and the plan to move the fireworks to Pioneer Island are on the agenda for Tuesday's Common Council meeting.