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BANDON — The Southern Coos Health Foundation, Southern Coos Hospital & Health Center and the community celebrate the ninth Community Light, Anthony Zunino owner of Freedom Graphics and president of the Bandon Chamber of Commerce.

Nominated for “the work that (he) did to bring a smile to the community at a time when there seemed to be little to smile about; and, coordinating the Fourth of July fireworks to the surprise and wonderment of Bandon Community Members," Zunino represents what it means to be a community light.

Zunino moved to Bandon in 1995, graduating from high school here, and spent the next 23 years in public service as a volunteer with the Bandon Fire Department, as a law enforcement officer with the Bandon Police Department and the Coos County Sheriff’s Office, as a member of the board of directors for the fire protection district, and as a member of the Bandon Chamber of Commerce, where he has been the president for the last two years.

“I love this place. I absolutely believe in everything about our community," Zunino said.

After starting a side business doing graphics for public service vehicles, Zunino took a leap of faith.

“Twenty years from now my kids won’t remember how much money I had in the bank, but will remember how much time we spent together,” Zunino said.

From that, the Freedom Graphics business was born.

Bandon residents may recognize Zunino’s two children, Case and Ali, from community projects around town or from participation in the Cranberry Festival. As the Cranberry Festival director for the last five years, Zunino has worked to instill in his children what community spirit really means.

“What we do we do for the greater good of our community, not just economically, but for the benefit of the community," he said. "You either sit back on the sidelines or you take the bull but by the horns, get involved and go for it.”

That spirit of getting involved and going for it is what brought fireworks back to Bandon this year.

With COVID-19 precautions requiring cities and organizations to reevaluate scheduled events and festivities, it seemed as though the scheduled fireworks show in Bandon, like most others, would be canceled for 2020. As an experienced pyro-technician and former public safety professional, the City Council approached Zunino for a recommendation on cancelling or maintaining the event.

“The City Council asked for a recommendation on what to do about the Bandon show," Zunino said. "Coupling an increase in traffic related to a Saturday (Fourth of July) and the cancellation of surrounding shows it seemed prudent to cancel from a safety perspective, so I made the recommendation to cancel.”

However, that decision wasn’t the end of Fourth of July fireworks this year.

“Fourth of July is my favorite holiday," Zunino said. "Whatever it means to you, it is good wholesome family time."

And for Zunino, there was something he could do bring a little light back to the community.

“I felt like there was a way I could pull this off and not put our community at risk," he said.

So Zunino decided to do a fireworks show for the community and keep it completely under wraps.

“I only told the people that absolutely had to know, including the police chief, fire chief, and port manager, all who had to sign off on the permit," he said.

It also couldn’t have happened without a whole community of collaboration.

“We couldn’t have done this without the help of Donny Goddard of Goddard Energy, who offered a driver and truck to transport the 2,800 pounds of fireworks from the storage depot to Bandon on the morning of the fourth.”

And so, surprise fireworks lit up the night sky bringing back a little normalcy during a time that has been anything but normal.

For Zunino, “The outpouring of support that has come by way has been overwhelming. I am grateful that I was in a position with the experience, connections and financial ability to be able to do the fireworks show, and it has been really inspirational to see how many people were touched by something that I perceived as a fairly small act.”

Finally, what advice does Zunino have for businesses and members of the community who are struggling with fear and uncertainty?

“Take a minute and have some perspective about where we live and the situation that we are in," he advised. "I think about it every day. I counsel and console and give advice to businesses every day as the president of the chamber — that’s my job. There’s a lot of uncertainty out there but I tell people to be grateful for the fact that at least we aren’t in a major metropolitan area with the exposure and the risk. Exposure to COVID, exposure to tumultuous times, exposure to litigation and liability. I don’t go home and worry about my business being looted or burned. We have the ability to social distance."

"Be grateful for where you are, and be grateful for the client base here both locals and visitors," Zunino added. "Don’t let the negative aspects of it get you down. We still have our community here. We may not always see eye to eye but when it comes down to the common good of our community we all see eye to eye, and that is a great thing to look at and focus on rather than focusing on the negative.”

For more information on the Community Lights campaign and details on how you can nominate a community member, friend, coworker, essential service provider and/or local business owner/worker that has been a shining light go to the Southern Coos Health Foundation and Southern Coos Hospital & Health Center Facebook pages or the Southern Coos Hospital webpage www.southerncoos.org/communitylights. Nominations can be submitted directly via survey monkey https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/9LKXZT6.

This summer, join SCHHC as they rally around a theme of “Bandon Together” and “Community Resilience” and continue to spotlight community members who represent a light in the community.

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