(Posted July 7, 2020)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
Village and city leaders in West Jefferson and London were hoping for the best when they decided to go forward with fireworks displays. By all accounts, they got it.
“The fireworks were fantastic. We didn’t have any trouble. It’s not what we expected,” said Ray Martin, West Jefferson mayor.
In cooperation with the West Jefferson July 4th Streetfest Committee and Jefferson Township trustees, the village moved the launch site for the fireworks to Converse Park, shut down all parks, and asked village residents to watch the display from their homes. The goal was to discourage mass gatherings to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The fireworks were held on July 4.
“It worked out great,” Martin said.
West Jefferson Police Chief Christopher Floyd reported that all of his officers worked multiple shifts to cover the event. They encountered no problems with people congregating and drove through neighborhoods passing out candy.
“With the help of those officers and the street department, we were able to block off the village parks, and the school blocked off the school property,” Floyd said. “The display was intended for residents of West Jefferson. It went much smoother than anticipated, and that is because of the help and cooperation of our citizens.”
Floyd said the biggest problem his department encountered over the Independence Day weekend was residents setting off their own fireworks illegally.
“We had constant calls for that. No charges of any kind were filed. Most people were cooperative when we asked them to stop,” he said.
London officials had nothing but good to report about their set-up, as well. The fireworks were launched on July 3 from the London High School grounds, as usual, but with social distancing required between parked cars and traffic patterns in place for those who opted to watch the display at the school.
“Everybody seemed to adhere to the recommendations, and it was a great night,” said Patrick Closser, London mayor. “People came out to the schools and kind of parked around town to see the fireworks, then they went on their way.”
He noted that with everything going on with the pandemic, city officials were happy to provide something to the citizens that brought a little normalcy to the summer.
London Police Chief Glenn Nicol said his department patrolled the school grounds and observed that everyone complied pretty well with social distancing guidelines.
“We had extra units out for patrol and response, and we didn’t really run into any problems,” he said.