BET Networks: Oak Bluffs fireworks show must go on

Lynn Christoffers

The annual August Oak Bluffs fireworks display, a big bang highlight of the summer for Island visitors and residents, will light up the sky over Ocean Park again this year.

This week, Black Entertainment Television (BET) Networks pledged a substantial donation to keep the long tradition alive.

Last fall, the Oak Bluffs Firemen’s Civic Association announced it could no longer sponsor the event, because of the cost and increased fundraising demands on its members.

Several BET executives are summer visitors to the Island, and the company’s Centric network throws a gala party here in August.

“BET Networks has a longstanding relationship with Martha’s Vineyard,” said Debra Lee, CEO and Chairman of BET Networks in a statement. “Our Centric anniversary party in Oak Bluffs attracts BET audiences and vacationers and has become an annual event, and we look forward to coming to the Island.”

“We were happy to step in and continue to provide our guests and audiences with a truly memorable experience,” said executive vice president and chief financial officer Michael Pickrum.

The civic association officers also issued a statement.

“Our annual August fireworks are back on,” the association officers said. “The decision to discontinue the fireworks has weighed heavily on the hearts of association members since it was made in October, but the lack of funding and limited donations due to tough economic times had left no other options. The August fireworks serve as a great source of pride for our members and we are thrilled that with the assistance of BET networks, we can continue this 36-year tradition.”

Neither BET nor the civic association would confirm the amount of the donation.