More than Just Spectacular Fireworks

More than Just Spectacular Fireworks

As more than a half-million people celebrated the end-of-summer ritual of fun, family and friends at Riverfest, they might not know that Western & Southern/WEBN fireworks is also building our community and lending a hand to Cincinnatians who might need a little extra help.

“We have a vision of making our community the best place to live, work and enjoy life,” says John F. Barrett, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Western & Southern. “This means having quality jobs, healthcare and education, as well as ensuring a good quality of life stemming from the arts to sports to our parks.

“We put our time, treasure and talent behind hundreds of organizations and initiatives that work to accomplish those objectives.”

The Western & Southern/WEBN Fireworks is one of those initiatives.

“Part of the Labor Day festivities each year is the Rubber Duck Regatta that benefits the Freestore Foodbank,” says Barrett. “We support their goal of fighting hunger right here at home. They’re a well-run organization as 94 percent of all donations go straight to helping hungry children, hardworking families and struggling seniors.”

This year marked the 23rd annual Rubber Duck Regatta and saw more than 173,000 rubber ducks bobbing along the Ohio River. Ducks are purchased online and at various stores throughout the area as a donation to Freestore Foodbank. The person who bought this year’s winning duck received a new car.

“This event kicked off Freestore Foodbank’s Hunger Action Month,” says Barrett. “It really raises awareness and urges people to actively fight hunger in their communities.”

Western & Southern has sponsored the fireworks since 2015.

“This is the third year Western & Southern has been the title sponsor,” says Barrett. “We were approached when the former sponsor dropped out and we said to ourselves, ‘This has been a Cincinnati tradition for over 40 years. We can’t lose this.’ So we stepped up and have been a proud sponsor ever since.

“It’s really a unique event that even much larger cities don’t have. There’s the 700,000 people in Cincinnati and Newport who come to the fireworks, plus there are folks watching from their boats on the river or from the hills around Cincinnati, along with everyone watching it on TV with an average audience significantly higher than all of the other stations combined. It’s an event that truly brings all of us together for the last ‘bang’ of the summer.”

Western & Southern is involved in a number of city-wide events that benefit charities.

“We are able to present Walk MS at Sawyer Point to work to end multiple sclerosis, which affects hundreds of thousands of Americans,” says Barrett. “We have Ride Cincinnati that raises money for the Barrett Cancer Center and the Thanksgiving Day Race that supports a number of charities like Cincinnati’s Ronald McDonald House.”

There is also the famous Western & Southern Open tennis tournament that raises money for the Barrett Cancer Center, Children’s Hospital Medical Center and Tennis for City Youth.

Western & Southern also presents the Crib of the Nativity in Eden Park each holiday season. Visitors can leave donations that are matched by Western & Southern to benefit the Salvation Army. Over the past 20 years, more than $200,000 has been raised to help the homeless and needy children in the Tri-State area.

You may ask yourself, where would a CEO of Fortune 500 company watch the fireworks?

“After spending the afternoon on both the Kentucky and Ohio sides of the river, I watched from the top of the Residence Inn at the Phelps,” smiles Barrett. “Just one of the many terrific views in our beautiful city.” 

Western & Southern Financial Group is located at 400 Broadway Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202. For more information, call 866.832.7719 or visit

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