Great Balls of Compliance
Wed, 05/13/2020 - 2:59pm admin
Amanda Mendez, Publisher
The City of Willow Springs announced in a press release on April 28 that the Eleven Point Fire Department will not host its annual fireworks show on July 4, 2020. Due to concerns over the coronavirus pandemic, the volunteer fire department plans to postpone the show to the fall. According to Fire Chief Frank Vanhorn, they are eyeing Labor Day weekend or the weekend of the Bear City Festival on October 3 for the show this year.
“This was an extremely hard decision to make, however, they knew with all the mandates of social distancing, felt it almost impossible to move forward [sic],” read the press release.
Vanhorn stated, “When decisions were being made on the Federal and State level to require social distancing and limit gatherings of people, we knew that having this year’s festivities was not going to be an easy task. We take the gravity of this virus and the safety of our community very serious and will always side with maintaining the health of our neighbors as a priority.”
In an interview, Vanhorn described the crowd conditions at the fireworks display as “shoulder-to-shoulder,” and said the show draws thousands of spectators.
“Imagine the whole city in the parking lot and field plus all the people who come from everywhere else,” he explained, “Even if we’re safe here, people come from hotspots. We have people attend from all over.”
Putting on the show is a three-month-old phase of planning and acquisition according to Vanhorn, and though it may seem too early to make decisions about the Fourth of July, in a normal year, the behind-the-scenes work of putting on the show would have begun a month ago.
To highlight the gravity of the decision to postpone the show, Vanhorn listed the other mishaps and disasters overcome in past years to put on the show, including a warehouse explosion that destroyed a large number of already purchased fireworks and the 2017 flood.
Vanhorn said the decision to postpone instead of putting on a show with social distancing restrictions would be “unfair” to the vendors who normally benefit from the community event.
“We’re hoping it’s the right decision,” he said, “There’s a lot of decisions being made now that are disappointing people. We can’t be violating restrictions. We have to abide by the regulations and that requires tough decisions.”
With the ever changing nature of the COVID-19 crisis, Eleven Point Fire Department will make a decision on the date of the 2020 display and will announce it when possible. Vanhorn said he hopes to give participating vendors 60 days’ notice of the rescheduled date.
The funds collected in Great Balls of Fireworks fundraising efforts since October 2019 will be used in the next fireworks display. The money collected so far is approximately 25% of the total needed to put on the show.