FAIRHOPE – Fairhope’s July 4 fireworks celebration planned for Saturday has been canceled due to the COVID 19 outbreak.
The Fairhope City Council voted 3-1 Thursday to cancel the annual display.
On Monday, Daphne City Council members voted to continue plans to hold that city's fireworks display at Trione Park on Saturday.
On Thursday, the Fairhope City Council met for less than five minutes in a teleconference meeting to vote on what to do about the event.
“We’re here for one reason and one reason only and that is to just vote on whether or not to cancel the Fourth of July fireworks,” Council President Jack Burrell said. “I think that we know the answer, but we just need to make it official.”
Before the meeting, Mayor Karin Wilson said the popular event should be canceled.
“I've expressed my concerns about holding a 4th of the July celebration this year due to COVID-19 exposure and implored council to consider the implications of moving forward,” Wilson said in a statement posted on social media. “Confirmed cases are increasing and although I have been restricted from sharing Fairhope data with the public (something I've been challenging for months), canceling this event is a necessary decision.”
Councilman Robert Brown cast the only vote against the closing Thursday. Brown did not comment during the teleconference meeting, but he said earlier that he felt the decision should be up to individuals.
“My opinion is we have the fireworks and ask the people to maintain from non-family members and if you don’t feel safe going out, then don’t go out,” Brown said. “Maintain social distancing, give out guidelines and leave it up to the people.”
At a discussion on the display at the May 28 City Council work session, Jessica Walker, community development director, said 12,000 to 14,000 people gather at the base of the bluffs on an average year to watch the display. Using social distancing guidelines requiring people who are not in the same family to be at least six feet apart would cut that number to about 5,000, she said.
The city, however, does not have enough police officers to enforce social distancing requirements for a crowd that size, she said. Walker said police were also concerned attempting to oversee a crowd that size could also put officers at risk of infection.
As of Monday, other cities that had canceled July 4 fireworks displays due to COVID-19 included Gulf Shores and Mobile.