Safety Harbor city commissioners voted unanimously Monday night to cancel the city’s annual 4th of July parade and a fireworks show that would have been held at the Waterfront Park.
However, commissioners instructed City Manager Matt Spoor to work with the American Legion Post 283 on possibly holding a “scaled down” 4th of July drive-thru of local neighborhoods.
The possibility of drawing huge crowds to town during the on-going COVID-19 pandemic was cited as the main reason for canceling this year’s celebration. Previous 4th of July fireworks shows have drawn an estimated 10,000 spectators.
Safety Harbor joins other cities in the area that have canceled fireworks including Clearwater, Dunedin, Tarpon Springs, Gulfport, and Sarasota.
Mayor Joe Ayoub said he had received a call from Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri who advised that with all the other fireworks shows being canceled, people from those towns might come to Safety Harbor if there was a fireworks show.
Ayoub said he was “fine with having no fireworks this year”.
Commissioners Cliff Merz, Andy Zodrow, Carlos Diaz and Nancy Besore agreed that the potential crowd would be unmanageable and a potential health hazard.
The commission also received e-mails and comments from residents who oppose having fireworks and a parade this year.
“I think the patriotic thing this year is to keep our people safe,” said Besore.
City Manager Spoor said the American Legion Post, which sponsors the parade, wants to do something on the 4th, possibly something similar to a recent drive-thru graduation celebration organized for Safety Harbor school children.
A caravan of decorated cars traveled through neighborhoods where graduates and their families could celebrate from their yards, driveways or garages.
Commissioners also kept open an option to hold a fireworks show for Veterans Day in November which will be discussed at a future commission meeting.