Torch Lake Fireworks by STAA


BY: STAA (South Torch Area Association)

The fireworks on the South end of Torch Lake Michigan began in 1972, and were launched every year through 2013 (48 consecutive years). The fireworks were originally organized and overseen by local volunteers, mostly from the south end of Torch Lake.

In 2001 the South Torch Area Association was formed as a 501(c)(3) “Non Profit” organization. This transition to a “Non Profit” was due to the fact that more fund-raising was required, and the necessity for legal and logistical assistance was realized. Four officers were needed to oversee this organization, and during the past 14 years various individuals served as President, Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer. Most recently the officers were: Rick Godden (Pit Stop), Pete Stephenson (Country Kitchen/Alden Bar), Sharyln Chapman (Torch Rivera) and Bruce Hoopes (Crystal Springs Road/ South end of the Lake). Many other individuals, however, helped with the numerous tasks that were required to make this event successful every year.

Some major events have happened in the last 2 ½ years regarding the South Torch Area Association. Rick Godden passed away suddenly in March 2013, Sharyln Chapman was in a near fatal car accident (needed Jaws of Life to be removed from the wreckage) in January 2014, and Pete Stephenson passed away suddenly in January 2015. Also new safety requirements for the handling of fireworks were released and put into effect in 2014 by the ATF. These regulations required a different way of handling fireworks, the storage of fireworks, and the movement of fireworks. Given the short notice of these regulations and their enforcement; there was not enough time to react and for the first time in 49 years the Torch Lake fireworks were cancelled in 2014.

In late April 2015 three new individuals volunteered to step in and help rekindle a long standing, patriotic, and family friendly tradition on Torch Lake. The timeline for the decisions and logistical planning was short because of the delay in response for answers from various professional fireworks companies regarding the cost of professionally launching the fireworks as opposed to using volunteers. The cost of using a professional company to launch the fireworks would be more expensive, but all safety requirements would be attained by this method.

The STAA has made the following decisions:

The fireworks will be held on July 3rd with a rain date of July 5th. The determining factors of this decision of having them on July 3rd is due to the fact that it will relieve pressure off the Antrim County Sheriff’s Department and Marine Patrol, who already have many other events to cover on July 4th. There has been pledged, via a TLPA grant, $1000 to pay for the Marine Patrol’s costs pertaining to the coverage of this event. A HUGE THANK YOU TO THE TLPA!

The iconic flag over the Torch River Bridge on the South end of the Torch Lake will be taken down, repaired, and updated. Please note that the STAA has paid the electric bill for that particular flag for several years. Again with the help and support of an anonymous donor, $500 has been given to STAA every year for the upkeep and operation of the flag. THANK YOU MR. ANONYMOUS!

The pontoon platforms / barges that have been used for the launching of the fireworks in the past will be repaired, improved, and returned to their previous location on the Sandbar for the fireworks display. This was made possible when Mr. Bill Baumgartner from Sunset Estates (a group of home-owners on the north side of the ball field) contacted STAA to assist financially in the cost of the repairs and extra fees. A generous donation of $5,750.00 has been pledged by this group of community focused individuals, A HUGE THANK YOU TO THESE INDIVIDUALS! 

The ball park south of Alden will only be used as a safe venue to load the fireworks on the barges (pontoons) via licensed and insured individuals. A HUGE THANK YOU TO HELENA TOWNSHIP FOR WORKING WITH EVERYONE TO MAKE THIS HAPPEN!

In closing the STAA is willing to meet with anyone or any group who has questions regarding this event. We would like to thank the various individuals who have already contacted us to offer their assistance, resources, and donations to carry on this wonderful family friendly tradition.

In a time where people disagree and have conflict, this community found a way to make it happen.


Thank you!


Rene Leak 
Rapid City, MI
Registered nonprofit
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