Chambersburg’s Aquatic Center opens Thursday, but the borough’s annual fireworks and 4th of July Day in the Park celebration has been postponed until Labor Day this year.
Borough Manager Jeffrey Stonehill cited both financial and COVID-19 concerns for the decision to postpone the Day in the Park event that includes a massive fireworks display at the end of the day.
The event includes day-long activities that always draw large crowds. Many of those activities are money-makers that help defray the cost of the fireworks display.
The day-long event was run by the 21-Day Retreat veterans organization in the past, but in recent years revenues from the game and food booths dropped, making it difficult for the organization tto raise enough to pay for the fireworks.
Last fall, the borough agreed to take over the project in an effort to preserve it for future generations.
This year‘s celebration was to include a Food Truck Festival, bouncy houses and other games, a VIP party at the Aquatic Center, and fireworks. The borough paid a $7,250 non-refundable deposit for the fireworks last December.
‘No practical way’ to social distance
Council decided that there was no practical way to hold the event while ensuring proper social distancing. Council also talked about fireworks without the fundraiser activities that help pay for them.
There were concerns, however, that even fireworks could violate the guidelines for special events in the Green Phase of the Governor’s Plan for the Reopening of Pennsylvania.
Staff voiced concern that it was unrealistic to expect Social distancing enforcement during the fireworks. As many as 10,000 people witness the fireworks in a good year, Stonehill said. The crowd numbers 3,000 even in a slow year.
“There’s no real way to close Memorial Park to crowds; it doesn’t have a gate,” he said. “(But) even if the Borough were somehow to close the park with barricades and police, people will congregate on sidewalks, and backyards, in area parking lots, … as they do every year.”
Councilvoted 7-2 with one abstention tp postpone the Day-In-The-Park celebration and fireworks until Labor Day. Council President Alice Elia warned, however, that date could change depending on the pandemic situation in September.
The borough still owes the vendor a second $7,250 payment For the fireworks.
“The entire day-long celebration was important to generate some of the funding to offset the expense of the event,” Stonehill said.
What other communities are doing
The public can still celebrate Independence Day in historic Gettysburg on July 4th.
Destination Gettysburg and Gettysburg Area Recreation Authority (GARA) are partnering to host this year’s community fireworks at the Gettysburg Recreation Park, 545 Long Lane.
Gates open at 7 p.m. and the fireworks show will begin at 9:20 p.m. Visitors should bring a lawn chair or blanket.
Viewing of the fireworks is free. Onsite parking will be available for a fee of $2 per car. Money raised from parking fees will be donated to the Rotary Club of Gettysburg.
The public can bring their own food and drinks. Smoking and alcohol are strictly prohibited. Attendees must comply with current CDC and DOH guidelines for social distancing at the event. For questions, contact Erin Peddigree with GARA, 717-334-2028.
Shippensburg Community Parks and Recreation Authority is sponsoring a fireworks display in Shippensburg Memorial Park Beginning at 9:30 p.m. July 4. Rain date is July 5.
Organizers ask that the public follow social distancing and other guidelines.
Seating at Veterans Stadium:
- In accordance with the PA Department of Health COVID-19 prevention guideline of gatherings of no more than 250 people. Veterans Stadium will be open to the first 250 people only.
- The main gate at Veterans stadium will open at 8 p.m. While waiting in line, please maintain 6 feet of distance.
- SCPRA will have markings on the ground to show proper 6 feet distance between you’re family and the next.
- Restrooms will be cleaned and sanitized.
- Sanitization table will be available with hand sanitizer available for use.
- Please remain with your family. If you choose to interact with others, face coverings are recommended.
Shippensburg Community Parks & Recreation will also live stream the event.