EMERALD ISLE — Town commissioners Tuesday night voted unanimously to cancel the Fourth of July fireworks display at the Bogue Inlet Fishing Pier because of the potential threat the novel coronavirus might still pose to such a mass gathering.
The board, during its monthly meeting in town hall – closed to the public but viewable live on the town’s Facebook page – also canceled the parks and recreation department’s summer day camp for kids, and agreed without a vote to at least delay the start of EmeraldFest, the annual live summer concert series on the deck stage at the Western Ocean Regional Access.
All of the decisions were based on the recommendations of Alesia Sanderson, director of the parks and recreation department.
“I don’t like any of these recommendations,” Ms. Sanderson said, but she added she thought they were necessary to protect residents and visitors and to comply with state restrictions that might still be in place.
The fireworks show annually draws thousands of viewers from the town and elsewhere, concentrated around the pier but also spread along the beach strand, with countless vehicles parked along Highway 58.
Instead of July 4, the board decided to do a fireworks show, using some of the budgeted $18,000, after the town Christmas parade the last Saturday, Nov. 28.
“That’s the last day the pier is (scheduled to be) open,” Ms. Sanderson said. “It’s also a time when many of our second homeowners are here.”
Ms. Sanderson said she also wants to set up some other events in conjunction with the Christmas parade –including a car show at the pier – to make it an all-day event.
“I want to talk to some of our local businesses to see what we can do to help them” attract customers, she said.
Mayor Eddie Barber said he thought that was an “excellent idea,” as did other board members.
The summer day camp for children ages 6-12 usually runs in eight, one-week sessions, each with a different theme, from mid-June through early August.
It’s so popular, at $85 per week, per child, that a lottery system is used to choose participants. But the recreation center isn’t open now, and Ms. Sanderson has said it might not open before July.
Even after that, she said, there might still be some restrictions imposed by the state, especially because children would be involved.
“I don’t know how we can operate it (the day camp) under the guidelines,” Ms. Sanderson said.
She added that she might plan some small activities for children, and commissioners gave her the discretion to choose and publicize those as she sees fits.
EmeraldFest is each Thursday from 6:30-8 p.m. and also draws crowds to see popular local musical acts.
It is scheduled to run this year from Thursday, June 11 through Thursday, Aug. 13, but Ms. Sanderson said June 11 is almost surely too early to start, given health concerns and crowd restrictions.
Delaying the start date to July and extending the closing date might work, she said, but could necessitate some adjustments as the series nears its end and the sun sets earlier in September.
Contact Brad Rich at 252-864-1532; email Brad@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @brichccnt.