BATAVIA – Plans are underway to launch fireworks during Batavia High School football games at Bulldog Stadium this season.
The effort is being spearheaded by Tom Gosselin of Batavia, an attorney with offices in St. Charles and a member of the Batavia Plan Commission.
Gosselin said the idea is to shoot off red and gold fireworks representing the team colors when the Bulldogs first take the field, followed by a red, white and blue display during the playing of the National Anthem.
After that, another round of fireworks would be ignited every time the Bulldogs score a touchdown.
“We haven’t decided about field goals,” Gosselin said, adding that there also could be a display at the end of the game if the Bulldogs win.
Gosselin said anonymous donors are providing the funding for the first season, with the intention of turning over the program to the Batavia Bulldog Boosters organization after the trial run.
There is great potential for generating sponsorship deals, Gosselin said, which could conceivably cover the cost of the fireworks and generate revenue for the Boosters.
Gosselin presented his plans to the Batavia City Council on June 3. He received a generally favorable response.
Mayor Jeff Schielke said his only concern would be the noise, particularly the effect it might have on the Georgetown townhouses just on the other side of West Wilson Street from the stadium.
“I personally think it’s a great idea,” Schielke said.
Gosselin said the fireworks would not be the same grade as those used during the Fourth of July display at the field, launched neither as high nor generating the same sound level. He said the volume would be lower than that of the high school’s marching band.
The launching tubes would be set up at a point about midway between Main Street and the southern end of the running track that circles the field, Gosselin said.
The fireworks would be ignited remotely and shoot about 120 to 150 feet into the air, Gosselin said.
Aldermen must approve a permit for the fireworks, but Gosselin must first submit an application to the Batavia Fire Department.
“It all comes down to safety,” Batavia Fire Chief Randy Deicke said, noting that the training and qualifications of the team setting up and launching the fireworks will be critical.
The fireworks plan appears to have the support of the Batavia School District 101 administration.
District Chief Financial Officer Tony Inglese said training requirements for the fireworks operators, and of course insurance, are under discussion.
“We think we can work through it,” Inglese said.
The Batavia School Board will not need to take a vote for the fireworks plan to move ahead, Inglese said.
School board member Chris Lowe said he and fellow board members had been made aware of the plan by district Superintendent Lisa Hichens.
“I imagine this may open additional fundraising opportunities for our Boosters, and they do a lot to offset costs that our students and community might otherwise have to bear,” Lowe said.
“If it lowers the financial burden on our community while providing greater enjoyment for Bulldog fans, then I’m all for it,” Lowe added.
Lowe reiterated the importance of safety and said the board will listen if there are objections.
“I’m sure there will be community members with concerns,” Lowe said. “I believe it is important we listen to those concerns and anticipate them when possible.”
In 2016, the Boosters pledged $500,000 to help fund the installation of synthetic turf at the athletic field. The school board accepted the offer early that year, and received $200,000 that spring.
Since then, the organization has been making payments of $60,000 per year, Ingelese said, and has a couple more years to go to complete the pledge.