BEND, OR -- Bend’s annual fireworks display will take off from Pilot Butte on July Fourth, as planned, thanks to a group of local car dealers. Following weeks of speculation that the show was at risk, Subaru of Bend President Matt Thomas says he was approached by The Bend Bulletin, the show’s main organizer, "They had a bunch of people back out at the last minute. It was a $30,000 obligation and they were shy like $18,300. Mike Smolich put some money towards it, and I called Jeff Robberson and then Robert Durfee over at Kendall Group and said, ‘Hey, why don’t we just all get together and split it, and make sure this happens?’" He tells KBND News, "They thought they had it handled, and then when they had some people back out at the last minute, my Bulletin rep reached out to me. And so, we just put it back together."
The Bend New Car Dealership Association is made up of Subaru of Bend, Robberson Ford, Kendall Toyota, Team Kia of Bend, Team Hyundai of Bend, Bend Honda and Chevrolet of Bend. Jeff Robberson, President of Robberson Ford, says working with his competitors to save the event was an easy decision, "Individually, we give a ton back to the community, but collectively we’ve never gotten together and done anything like this. So, hopefully this is the start of something great." He adds, "The Fourth has been such a big party in Bend since I moved here in 1957 – from Drake Park and everything, to the culmination of the fireworks – it’s just fun to be a part of it."
Thomas says he wants to do more in the future, "Next year, our hope is that we can get involved earlier and then just have the Bend New Car Dealer Association take it up every year so we don’t have a funding issue on it. It is a really big event for Central Oregon." The "Blast at the Butte" fireworks show starts Wednesday above Pilot Butte, at 10 p.m.