Bash goes on despite theft of ticket proceeds

‘In a way, everybody got stung by this.’ — Fire Chief Kenneth ElmoreBy TOM TIGANI
Sunday Times Newspapers





LINCOLN PARK — Members of the city’s Fire Department are persevering in the wake of a theft earlier this month from an annual charity effort.


Money that had been collected for tickets to Friday’s summer bash turned up missing the morning of Feb. 17. The firefighter selling the tickets last saw the money in his locker about 11 p.m. Feb. 16 and noticed it was gone about 8 a.m. the next day, according to police Lt. John Martin.


A 17-year local tradition, the “vast majority” of the money raised at the summer bash goes toward helping promote health and fitness activity in the community, Fire Chief Kenneth Elmore said, while some goes to purchase workout equipment for firefighters. Proceeds from the bash have supported the city’s youth baseball, hockey and football programs. Last year firefighters donated money for minor league football helmets.


“They really do a good job of taking this money and spreading it around to provide health and fitness throughout the community,” Elmore said. “In a way, everybody got stung by this.


“Everybody is just absolutely in shock around here. In my almost 31 years, nothing close to this magnitude has happened. It’s almost beyond the comprehension of the guys here.”


The exact amount of money taken is uncertain, but Elmore said estimates place it “somewhere in the neighborhood of $2,000.” The bash, which took place Friday at Crystal Gardens Banquet Center in Southgate, features dinner, dancing and prize giveaways and costs about $12,000 to $15,000 to put on, Elmore said. Attendance typically is in the range of 800-plus.


While “money has been put down and certain bills have been paid,” he said Wednesday, the shortfall caused by the theft “will have to come from somewhere else.” Planning for the event starts in late winter or early spring every year, Elmore said, and continues through the entire year, so that even though the theft is distressing, he’s confident it will end up being a success again this year.


But because firefighters Local 1292 members will have to dig into their coffers and eat the loss, his department has been demoralized by the incident.


“It’s very sad that they even have to think about doing it,” Elmore said of the union members. “They’re good guys. The thought of this happening in our home away from home is very distrubing to our guys here.”
“Our guys are in the process of investigating,” Martin said. “We’re actively taking investigative measures to focus on a suspect.


We’ve gathered some information and we’re going to see where that takes us.”


In the meantime, Elmore said, several people in the community have heard about what happened and offered donations to help make up the difference. Anyone else who is interested in donating can make checks payable to Summer Bash, Lincoln Park Fire Department,1355 Cleophus, Lincoln Park, MI, 48146.


For more information call (313) 381-1100.


(Contact Tom Tigani at