Harbor Commission To Consider Fireworks Options

in city hall/events/news

The Safety Harbor City Commissioners are looking at options for the city’s 4th of July celebration, including canceling the annual fireworks show at the Waterfront Park and Marina because of the COVID-19 virus threat.

The 20-minute fireworks display has drawn around 10,000 spectators, according to city officials. Such gatherings are not allowed under current state-mandated guidelines in Governor Ron DeSantis’ Phase 1 of reopening the state in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The governor has not announced when Phase 2 would begin which might allow for large venue events but with limited capacity (50 percent or less).

The city’s contract with the fireworks vendor is due to be signed by Tuesday, June 2. And numerous Florida cities, including Clearwater, Tarpon Springs, Gulfport and Sarasota, have already canceled their fireworks shows.

After reviewing event logistics and information, the city staff offered the following options for consideration at the meeting set for Monday night.

1, Host a full event with vendors, entertainment and fireworks display. Concerns include managing density, social distancing enforcement, and sufficient personnel for crowd management.

2. Host a fireworks only show. Concerns include managing venue closings and sufficient personnel to keep people away.

3. Postpone the fireworks display to an alternate date.

4. Cancel the event.

Even though Safety Harbor City Hall is expected to be opened again by Monday, the commission meeting with be virtual, using Zoom technology.

Also on the agenda is a presentation by the Safety Harbor Fire Department on the upcoming hurricane season and further discussion on providing some kind of aid to city businesses or residents impacted by the COVID-19 shutdown.

Commissioners have been discussing giving aid since early April but have not settled on who, what, how or how much, although they have expressed willingness to spent $200,000 to $300,000 from a General Reserve Fund.

The most recent proposals involve giving $1,000 grants to small businesses to cover rent, mortgage or utility costs to those eligible (an estimated 200 potential businesses). Another proposal would grant $200 to $300 utility credits to low income individuals who would qualify.

For more information go to http://www.cityofsafetyharbor.com

Walt spent 35 years as a reporter, feature writer. TV critic and columnist for The Tampa Tribune. Prior to that he worked in the public relations office at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and as a reporter for The Greenville (SC) News. He and his wife, Debbie, have lived in Safety Harbor for 10 years. He also taught media writing courses at the University of Tampa. Since moving here, he has been active with the Safety Harbor Art and Music Center, hosting a monthly storytelling night.