MOREHEAD CITY — MoreheadCity officials say the annual Fourth of July fireworks show will go on as planned this year amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The Morehead City Council discussed whether to move forward with the celebration during a workshop meeting Wednesday morning. City Manager Ryan Eggleston said he brought the matter before the board because he needs to place an order soon for the fireworks, should the city decide to proceed.
Overall, the board expressed its support for hosting the show, possibly with some measures in place to discourage large crowds from gathering to watch. Mayor Jerry Jones suggested closing the city’s public parks the night of the show, and Councilman Bill Taylor recommended the city encourage social distancing in its advertising leading up to Saturday, July 4.
“My personal opinion is Independence Day is July 4 and this country has a birthday every year whether we have a virus or not,” Mayor Jones said.
The city budgeted $15,000 in the current fiscal year for the fireworks show. It anticipates more than a $1.4 million budget shortfall for the upcoming fiscal year, beginning Wednesday, July 1, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“If we place the order, we’re on the hook for it financially if we make the decision to cancel it,” Mr. Taylor noted.
Emerald Isle recently drew criticism for canceling its Fourth of July fireworks show, citing concern over large crowds that may gather to view it.
Some Morehead City council members acknowledged it is likely people will gather to view the show there, especially downtown along the waterfront. However, the consensus among the council was that it’s up to individuals to choose whether or not to attend.
“There’s been some years I’ve stayed at my house and watched them in my yard,” Councilman George Ballou said. “We’re not organizing and we’re not encouraging (crowds), but we’re going to have a fireworks show.”
The city council will formally vote whether to proceed with this year’s Fourth of July fireworks celebration during its monthly meeting scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Contact Elise Clouser at email@example.com; by phone at 252-726-7081 ext. 229; or follow on Twitter @eliseccnt.