As it does every year, Addison’s air and fireworks mega festival, Kaboomtown, attracted thousands who braved traffic jams, booked hotels, packed restaurants, crowded lawns and scrambled to claim their seat. The mad dash happened hours before the first rocket fired at the nationally renowned event, touted by USA Today as one of the best. But after all the glitter and smoke, are Kaboomtown and other productions like it a boom or a bust? City officials like Barbara Kovacevich, director of Special Events and Kaboomtown organizer, assert that Kaboomtown was a “boom” for reasons both financial and otherwise.
Without final numbers from town budgets, Kovacevich was not ready to release exact numbers to quantify Kaboomtown’s financial impact. Instead, she elaborated on the term “economy” from its other sense, as more than just a financial performance, but the efficient utilization of resources toward a goal. Kovacevich described how those resources—the vendors, visitors, residents and employees who create Kaboomtown each year merged to create the fire and economic impact that was Kaboomtown 2014.
Kovacevich called Kaboomtown one of the, “largest economic drivers in the community.” She described how the, “entire town pulls together.” Kovacevich explained that Addison uses everything from hotel bookings, restaurant sales, vehicle quantities and backyard barbeques to determine economic impact. Though not all the numbers were in, Kovacevich spoke confidently about the Kaboomtownnumbers she does know. One such number is the tickets that were distributed—over 20,000, on a first-come, first-serve basis, free of charge, for the first time in Kaboomtown history, to anyone wanting to attend the event held at Addison Circle Park July 3.
Kovacevich elaborated how various vendor sales impacted Kaboomtown 2014. She explained that the hotel bookings, which attract visitors from 50 states were, “slightly up,” from the norm. Also up, declared Kovacevich, were Addison food purchases which she classified as usually up 20-200 percent during Kaboomtown, bringing about 2.5 million to the economy—no doubt due, in part, to the town’s famously dense concentration of eateries in its 41/2 square miles. However, Kovacevich stated that this year, one restaurant owner reported doing as much as 600 percent more in business.
Town traffic patterns also played a large part in gauging attendance at this and past year’s Kaboomtown events. Kovacevich explained that the town, “uses traffic patterns,” to measure event attendance, employing, “about 300 officers to direct traffic.” Kaboomtown crews even set up special, high-rise, police command posts to communicate with traffic officers. Visitors are normally estimated at around 500,000. However, although specific numbers are still being determined, Kovacevich stated that this year’s estimate, “feels consistent,” with that 500,000, and may have even increased. One reason for the jump she explained, may be linked to the calendar: “Kaboomtown is always held on July 3, so each day of the week, presents different traffic demands.” Kovacevich explained that because Kaboomtown was, “on Thursday, so that most people had July 4th off, going into the weekend,” it created the potential for higher traffic.
Kovacevich proclaimed that yet another Kaboomtown 2014 number, its age—29, to be exact— proves it has two key economic drivers—staying power and repeat business. “It is a multi-generational event that keeps people coming back to Addison,” Kovacevich said. She told a story about a man who, celebrating his wife’s birthday at the event, reminisced about his visits to Kaboomtown as a child. “There is not a group that cannot be involved in Kaboomtown,” Kovacevich reiterated, because, the town is four-and-a half square miles.” She also emphasized the event’s benefits to Addison residents are further heightened by the fact that funds to produce Kaboomtown come from tourism and hotel taxes and not from taxpayers.
If economic impact is measured by the management of resources and all its moving parts, Kaboomtown 2014, whether a financial triumph, was a big hit, as huge crowds and history show. When asked about the outlook for Kaboomtown 30 in 2015, Kovacevich remarked, “People are already booking hotel rooms for next year.”
Kaboomtown was launched in 1985 by former Addison Mayor, Ron Whitehead, to build a sense of community through events.