Ocean City Council plan to discuss event during next week’s public work session
(June 19, 2020) The Ocean City Council officially postponed Fourth of July fireworks Thursday morning, and will discuss a new date to celebrate the nation’s independence during next Tuesday’s council work session.
Luckily, the resort’s special events department has been preparing for this potential postponement for some time now.
“It’s not that we are not going to celebrate our country’s independence, we are, we absolutely are … it just [may not be] on July 4,” Special Events Director Frank Miller said.
In May, the Ocean City Council made it clear that it desired a grand fireworks display, whether it be on Fourth of July or not, financial risks and all.
“I think we need them,” Councilman John Gehrig said at the time. “I think we need to celebrate our independence more than ever.”
Following the meeting, the city signed a $55,000 contract with Celebration Fireworks, of which $13,750 would be required of the city as a non-refundable deposit.
The primary factor that could lead to the event’s postponement was the risk associated with mass gatherings.
Frank Miller said he and his team wanted to remain cautious and prevent the resort from becoming a covid-19 hotspot.
Miller said his team had to take into consideration two variables: July 4 being a Saturday this year, and the cancelation of almost every fireworks display in neighboring municipalities.
“We would automatically end up with a larger crowd just because of the day of the week the Fourth of July is celebrated on,” Miller said. “The second thing is since there are no other fireworks display happening on the Fourth of July on the Eastern Shore, we would end up drawing even more of a mass crowd for it [the event].”
These two variables would make even the idea of social distancing unfathomable, and would exponentially increase the risk of exposure and potential spread of the virus, Miller said.
Celebration Fireworks has offered two contingency dates in its contract with the resort, one in August and the other in September.
A definitive date remains unclear, however, until the council formalizes its decision.
“Like everybody else, we are being very mindful of where we are in the recovery process for covid-19 and the fact that we are still dealing with a live virus that is still a potential issue and continues to be and will continue to be for a long duration,” Miller said. “But, as a tourist destination we also know that we want to be able to provide experiences within the parameters that were given. That’s always a driving factor for us, and we’re always trying to think outside of the box and bring opportunities to the table for our residents and our guests, but we’re also putting safety first and try to decrease that risk level.”