It was about 15 minutes after Hossein “Hagi” Hagigholam found out that the city could no longer fund its Fourth of July fireworks display that he decided to fund the show himself.
“The same day, I told myself, ‘How can it be? How could you take away the most important day?’” said Hagigholam, who founded the Mamacita’s restaurant chain.
That’s when he called the mayor of Kerrville and said he would fund the fireworks with
$12,000 per year until it added up to $100,000.
“(I said), ‘One condition — you’re going to have to do a hell of a job better than it was,’” Hagigholam said. “Fortunately, they did a very good job. Since the first year, they have done an outstanding job. The public tells me that. Every year looks like it’s getting better and better.”
It’s been 10 years since Hagigholam made the decision to support the display. His funding to-date reached nearly $100,000 last year. This year, he finishes out the remaining $4,000 of the original pledge, but he is continuing to pay the full $12,000.
“I never dreamed that someday I would go to America, but I do well enough that I can sponsor something like that,” Hagigholam said. “I don’t look at it as an expense. I’m looking at it as a payback.”
The city has since gotten other sponsors to pay for items such as fencing, advertising and hiring helpers, too. Hagigholam’s fund pays only for fireworks.
“The show would not be possible without the substantial contribution Mamacita’s has made,” said Ashlea Boyle, director of the city’s parks and recreation department. “We extend our sincere gratitude for Mamacita’s generosity, and are proud to have such wonderful and supportive local businesses in our community.”
Hagigholam said that he thinks others would have done exactly the same that he did; he was just quicker to jump into action.
“I know other people would step in and wouldn’t let this die, because Americans are very patriotic, and they would not allow such a thing,” he said. “Nothing can take the place of freedom.”