(Posted June 10, 2020)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
To have fireworks or not? Communities across Madison County are deciding how they will (or won’t) celebrate the Independence Day holiday.
London and West Jefferson have decided to move forward with their fireworks display. Plain City has postponed their display until Labor Day weekend.
The following are the plans as they now stand:
London’s fireworks display is scheduled for dusk on July 3. The fireworks will be shot off from the London High School grounds.
City government leaders are picking up where the London Patriotic Celebration Committee left off. Led by private citizens, the committee coordinated the fireworks for many years, raising donations to cover the cost. This year, the city is picking up the tab, appropriating $10,000 for the display.
Logistics, including parking, are still being worked out. Organizers are taking into account state and local safety guidelines regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19).
“We know that there’s rules and regulations we have to abide by, but we are trying to give our residents something to do and trying to bring some kind of normalcy to their summer,” said London Mayor Pat Closser.
Unlike years past, the London City Schools Athletic Boosters will not hold their Raider Nation Fun Fest on the football field prior to the fireworks display. Additionally, the city will not hold a parade this year. In the past, the parade took place on July 4 in downtown London.
- West Jefferson
The West Jefferson July 4th Streetfest Committee, a group of private citizens, has a long-standing tradition of holding a three-day festival culminating in a fireworks display. The festival is not happening this year, but the fireworks are–albeit in a different location and format that does not permit a mass gathering.
The display is scheduled for dusk on July 4. The fireworks will be shot off from Converse Park. All parks in West Jefferson will be closed, including Converse Park. Organizers and village officials are encouraging residents to watch the display from their homes.
In years past, the fireworks were shot off from Hampton Cemetery. Crowds would gather on the Ox Roast grounds at Garrette Park and surrounding areas to watch them. Current state and local protocols related to COVID-19 require social distancing which would be difficult to achieve or enforce in the usual set-up.
Representatives from the Streetfest Committee, village and township government, county health department, and safety services talked it over and came up with the watch-from-home solution. They chose Converse Park as the fireworks launch site because of its central location.
“The fireworks should be very visible from most of the housing areas in West Jefferson,” said Bob Harper Jr., a member of the Streetfest Committee.
As they have in the past, the committee is covering the cost of the fireworks. Usually, they hold a fundraiser to help cover the expenses. That did not happen this year due to the pandemic. Anyone who would like to help defray the cost of the fireworks can send donations to “West Jefferson July 4th Streetfest Inc.,” 880 Crescent Dr., West Jefferson OH 43162.
- Plain City
In May, Plain City village leaders decided to postpone this year’s Independence Day fireworks until Labor Day weekend.
“Instead of cancelling them outright, we still wanted to offer residents an event. The further out we went (with a new date), the hope is that more (COVID-19) restrictions will get lifted,” said Jody Carney, village council president.
The village also decided to cancel the activities that traditionally precede the July 4 fireworks display, which included bounce houses, food trucks, children’s games, and live music at Pastime Park.
As of June 9, a decision had not been made on whether the village will hold a July 4 parade.