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CEDAR POINT — July 13 and 14 will be two important days for the Cedar Point Fire Department as the sole recipient of funds to be raised at this weekend’s second annual Cedar Point Classic charity softball tournament at Cerri Memorial Park.
The Cedar Point Classic is an outgrowth of the now-defunct Firecracker Men’s Softball Tournament which had been held as a charity event in Cedar Point for 24 years.
In 2012, the fate of the Firecracker Tournament seemed to be up in the air due to the rising costs and logistics of running the event, so a group of dedicated fans stepped up to put together a one day tournament, now known as the Cedar Point Classic, to benefit the Cedar Point Fire Department.
This year, the Cedar Point Classic will expand the softball tournament to a two day event, as well as adding a home run derby, live entertainment, food and beer tents starting at noon on Saturday and Sunday.
For tournament director Kevin LaFollette, continuing the tradition of the fund raising tournament was a no brainer “I personally have fond memories of being 6 years old and accompanying my uncle to this event (the Firecracker) for several years and being the “bat boy” for the team. So naturally when I started to play men’s softball I did whatever I could to convince my team to enter.” said LaFollette.
When it came time to select a recipient for the funds raised, the fire department was a natural choice said LaFollette since the all-volunteer unit is one of very few independently (non tax payer-) funded fire departments in the area.
Cedar Point fire chief Kevin Gould couldn’t agree more.
“We’re totally self-supporting. All our funds come from fundraising by the department.” Gould said the fire department,in addition to soliciting funds from sponsors, held a hog roast annually, but attendance at the fundraisers had been down, reducing the amount of funds they were able to bring in. “Any town in the area will have beer gardens, we had to do something different to spark an interest.” said Gould.
The timing couldn’t be better to replenish the department’s coffers, according to Gould. “Funds are generally depleted by December.” The money raised from last year’s tournament went directly to the fire department’s general fund, but Gould said the fund was drained when they had to purchase a new truck last year.
“That big brush fire over by Utica (last year), all the area departments responded to that, but we tore up one of our trucks and had to buy a new one from California. All our funds went to that.”
Gould said funds raised this year will go to upgrading and adding new equipment. “Our equipment is old and outdated, there are some tools we don’t have and the cost of replacing and buying this stuff is astronomical.”
LaFollette said 2012’s last-minute one day event raised over $1,500 for the fire department, so he is hoping to at least double that with this year’s effort.
Gould is hoping for the sake of the department, for a large turn out as well. “Ten, fifteen years ago, we were going just to fires. Now, the fire department is involved in anything and everything.”
“We’re tripling our runs and our costs are going up. This is the only way we survive.”