Planners start axing summer events like July 4 fireworks over uncertainty around coronavirus


@VALUEZTV


Brandon Holveck,


It'll be a quiet Fourth of July.


Fireworks displays, parades, concerts and other community events as far out as the first weekend of July have been canceled throughout much of Delaware in response to the coronavirus pandemic.


With the spring calendar already wiped clean, the hallmarks of the summer months are now in question as the number of COVID-19 cases in Delaware continues to rise. City officials and event planners feel they have no other choice but to ax events that require planning in advance.


"[Wilmington] will continue to hold out hope that life will return to normal for all of us very soon, but reality calls for some certainty regarding these events which organizers spend months planning," said Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki.


Two weeks after officials announced Delaware's first case, organizers pulled the plug on the state's largest music event, the Firefly Music Festival in Dover. Since, municipalities have steadily cleared their spring and summer lineups.


Purzycki rescinded public gathering permits for Wilmington events through the end of June, effectively canceling events like the city's long-running Memorial Day parade and the Wilmington Flower Market. 


Some event planners, like those overseeing the Delaware Running Festival and the Clifford Brown Jazz Festival, hope to hold their events at a later date but Purzycki has warned that cancellations could extend further into the summer and fall given the uncertainty surrounding the virus.


New Castle hascanceled all its eventsthrough May 31, including this weekend's May Market and June's Separation Day Colonial BBQ competition at Battery Park. 


Last week, Rehoboth Beachcanceled its Independence Day fireworksand Bandstand summer concert series through the first weekend of July. As long asthe beaches stay closedunder Gov. John Carney's emergency order, which Johnson said she expects will extend beyond May 15, Rehoboth's summer events will be canceled.


Dover's fireworks display, canceled earlier this month, is typically paid for by local businesses. Andrea Maucher, president of the planning committee, said given the state of the economy the city felt it wouldn't be right to ask for donations.


"There's so much uncertainty surrounding this right now," Maucher said. 

With thousands of people tightly packed, including out-of-town visitors, Newark's July 4 fireworks display didn't seem feasible to Mayor Jerry Clifton. The event takes place at the University of Delaware's athletic complex, adding an extra layer of scheduling difficulty given the university has shut down and canceled summer activities.


By canceling now, Newark will save at least $35,000. The fireworks draw around

30,000 people each year, according to City Manager Tom Coleman.


"If we're wrong, in that case we could be really wrong, and that's what I don't want to see," Clifton said.


Newark, which previously canceled its Memorial Day parade, is holding out hope it will be able to run its camp program, which serves as child care for families throughout the summer. 


But as with most facets of everyday life, it's dependent on how the coronavirus situation progresses.


"I think social distancing, in my personal opinion, is going to go longer than we think it's going to go," Clifton said. "I don't see this as something that's going to go away the 15th of May."



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