Major American Army base Fort Bragg has cancelled its Independence Day bash, making it the latest victim of sequester cuts.
Organizers expected the annual event that has been celebrated for more than 30 years to draw about 50,000 civilian and military attendees.
Fort Bragg spokesman Benjamin Abel said the decision to cancel the show wasn’t an easy one for base leadership to make, but ultimately it outweighed the threat of furloughs for their civilian workforce.
“It was kind of unreasonable to expect that we would pay that much money in overtime when we were also staring down the potential for furloughing those workers,” Abel told ABC News.
The base provided a list of other celebrations in the region, but Abel said the fireworks display and surrounding events at Fort Bragg would have been the largest Independence Day show in the area.
One day after the announcement went out, a Facebook group called, “OPERATION SAVE FOURTH OF JULY!” had amassed more than 500 members.
“Due to budget cuts Fort Bragg will be canceling their Fourth of July celebration. HELP US SAVE IT!!!!” the group’s description read. “We will be doing fundraising and taking donations to help put on some kind of celebration. Our soldiers deserve a day JUST FOR THEM and the freedom they have brought us. They fight for our freedom, let’s give them their day!”
When asked if there was a possibility the cancellation could be reversed if more funding were to come in, Abel left the door open but warned any talk of that was merely speculation.
“It’s the decision right now,” Abel said. “If there were some extraordinary circumstances that could happen in the future, who knows?”
The Department of Defense originally projected civilian employees could face up to 22 days of unpaid leave thanks to the across-the-board budget cuts in sequestration, but they recently reduced that number to 14 days.