Hockessin's July 4 events will go on as planned, starting with 7:30 a.m. relay races and softball-throwing contests among area neighborhoods at Swift Memorial Park along Valley Road near Lancaster Pike. A parade will start assembling at 1:30 p.m. at St. Mary of the Assumption Church on Lancaster Pike, with step-off at 3 p.m. The procession goes up the pike to Hockessin Fire Hall. Marchers and groups from the public are invited to join the parade by registering at the church during the assembly time. Fireworks are to start about 9 p.m. at Swift Park.

Club president Kelly Gates and Reggie Braud, the incoming president whose term starts July 1, said circumstances beyond their control forced the darkening of the community's longtime fireworks tradition. "We feel horrible about it," Braud said.

And by late Wednesday afternoon, the club had insurance and a signed contract with a fireworks company, written proof of a community collaboration that will light up the sky, uphold tradition and offer proof of the club's commitment as first-time sponsor of Hockessin's July 4 festivities.

A citizens' association started the celebration as a small event decades ago, but opted to bow out after attendance grew into the thousands, the parade grew to more than 100 marching units and two children were hurt last year.

A 14-year-old Newark girl was treated at Christiana Hospital for second-degree burns on one leg and arm, according to the Office of the State Fire Marshal, and a 9-year-old Hockessin boy suffered a chest bruise but did not require hospitalization. The separate incidents were among a handful of July 4 injuries statewide, none reported to be serious.

Jean Toman, a community leader who spearheaded the Hockessin Parade Association, talked with the Rotary Club about taking over sponsorship and the service group agreed, with Toman helping this summer as a transitional year.

Over several months, the club negotiated a contract with a fireworks firm in northern Pennsylvania. Braud said the negotiations dragged on as the club repeatedly pressed for better insurance coverage.

Officials at the unidentified fireworks company had not put on a display in Delaware since the state tightened regulations on explosives use after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Braud said. A new requirement allows fireworks to be ignited only by registered "shooters" -- and the Pennsylvania company couldn't provide them, Braud said.

But that firm was willing to provide only insurance that covered damage directly caused by the explosives display -- and its owners insisted the Rotary Club sign a three-year contract.

Club leaders checked with their umbrella group, Rotary International, and learned it doesn't provide insurance for such events either, he said.

Several insurance firms they contacted about one-day policies for the event were unable to provide coverage releasing both the local and international clubs from liability, he said.

On Wednesday, leaders of the Hockessin Fire Company -- a regular event supporter -- offered to sign on as co-sponsor to provide insurance coverage through the company's policy.

The fire company's leaders even got the fireworks company to agree to drop its insistence on a three-year contract to put on this year's show, Gates said.

The Rotary Club, however, still lacked a signed contract with the fireworks company, so even with the fire company insurance and one-year agreement, the group hesitated to say the show was back on.

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