What’s a Fourth of July without fireworks?
Many communities in our area are going to find out.
Englewood’s annual fireworks show at Blind Pass Beach is canceled, the Lemon Bay Sunrise Rotary announced Thursday. Venice’s show at the South Jetty Park is also a no-go. Punta Gorda is still undecided about a show over Charlotte Harbor, and the Stone Crabs don’t have any games scheduled yet, so no plans for a fireworks show either.
Only the city of North Port has committed itself — so far — to staging a July 4 fireworks show this year.
But even that show will modified to meet COVID-19 pandemic protocols.
As it has in past years, North Port will stage its show from the football stadium at North Port High School, 6400 Price Blvd. Spectators can start parking at 8 p.m. and the show will begin around 9 p.m. Parking will also be available across Price Boulevard at nearby Butler Park and the Morgan Center in North Port.
But North Port’s fireworks show will be reminiscent of old drive-in movies. The fireworks show will be a “park and watch” show, city spokesman Josh Taylor said. City staff is now working on the distancing of vehicles and other details that will meet the pandemic health guidelines.
Also, the city has no plans to stage its traditional July 4 Freedom Festival this year, Taylor said.
“Plans are still coming together,” he said Thursday. “Our attempt is to have something that can be seen from homes.”
In Punta Gorda, Smugglers Entertainment traditionally stages the fireworks shows over Charlotte Harbor. City officials won’t make a decision until the end of the month whether to permit this year’s show.
The Siesta Key July 4 fireworks show in Sarasota is also in limbo. The Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce hasn’t decided yet whether it will be staging the fireworks display.
“We’ll be back next year, God willing,” said Keith Rowley who, with Mike Looney, spearheads July 4 “Light Up Lemon Bay” shows from Blind Pass Beach staged by the Lemon Bay Sunrise Rotary.
They also hold a day-long Firecracker Festival in the beach parking lot that has also been called off.
“Look for a bigger, better fireworks show next year,” Rowley said. “We still have people donating.”
The Sunrise Rotary had been communicating with county and state health officials. County officials said they were waiting for CDC guidelines before saying yay or nay to the displays.
“It’s already over,” Rowley said Thursday. “We passed our deadline.”
The Rotarians needed a minimum of 60 days to arrange and prepare properly for the $40,000 fireworks extravaganza they stage annually since 2010.
The city of Venice decided last month to curtail its July 4 festivities.
“The coronavirus and related financial and operational implications necessitated the cancellation of this year’s event,” city manager Edward Lavallee stated in a press release dated April 30
“The popular observation sites, including the public beaches, annually attract huge crowds on the island,” Lavallee said. It would not be possible to manage social distancing standards, along with providing the other necessary crowd-management, traffic-control and public-safety tasks.”
Like Venice, city of Sarasota officials confirmed Thursday the cancellation of a downtown fireworks show over Sarasota Bay this year.