Groveport changes its Fourth of July celebration

By Rick Palsgrove
Groveport Editor
The city of Groveport’s Independence Day celebration will take place on two days this year on July 3 and July 4.

There will be live music performances along Wirt Road on July 3 by Mama Drama at 5 p.m., Devin Henry at 6:30 p.m., and Crush Bon Jovi Experience at 8 p.m. There will be food trucks, l family activities, and fireworks at dusk accompanied by music on radio frequency 88.3.

On July 4, the kids parade begins at 10:30 a.m. at Middle School Central, 751 Main St., goes west on Main Street and south on Oak Street to Crooked Alley KidSpace, 630 Wirt Road. The Main Street Fourth of July Parade begins at 11 a.m. at Richardson Road and goes west on Main Street, then north on Hendron Road, and ending at Glendening Elementary.

Problems last year
In years past the city held all of its Fourth of July activities on July 4, but last year things got rowdy during the Fourth of July fireworks in Groveport.

According to the Groveport Police, “flash mobs” of youths, believed to be made up of teenagers and others in their early 20s – some wearing ski masks – caused disruptions and chaos at last year’s event by tossing fireworks and other explosive devices and then running in all directions.

Groveport Police Chief Casey Adams said the goals of such flash mobs are to create “disruption and confusion.”

The worst incident, according to Adams, was when individuals in a flash mob gathered in the municipal parking lot along Wirt Road and first tossed a small firework to the ground and then a more powerful exploding device.

“They dropped them and ran. The first firework made a ‘pop’ sound,” said Adams. “The second, which we believe to have been an improvised homemade device, exploded with a major ‘bang’ that set off a strong concussive blast vibration. One officer had ringing in their ears afterward. The worst thing is these devices exploded near the propane tanks of the food vendors.”

Fortunately, he said no injuries were reported.

“It was a sight we don’t want to see happen in Groveport again this year,” said Mayor Lance Westcamp.

Added Adams, “I’d never seen anything like what happened last year.”

Groveport City Administrator B.J. King said, for the sake of safety and to be consistent with other area communities, it was decided to hold Groveport’s fireworks on July 3 this year instead of July 4.

Last year locally, only Groveport and Lancaster held fireworks on July 4 as most other area communities shoot them off on July 3. Because of that scheduling, last year Groveport drew a large crowd locally and from the surrounding area to its fireworks.

“The issues last year came about because we were the only game in town,” said King regarding the fireworks last year on July 4 as most other towns fired off their fireworks on July 3. “It was tough on the police and public last year. We do what we can to celebrate and keep everyone safe.”

Personal fireworks use
Adams said police will enforce the city’s ban on the use of personal fireworks as best as they can this year.

The city’s existing law completely bans the use of personal fireworks at any time within the city of Groveport.

Groveport’s local law is different than current state law that allows individuals to possess consumer grade fireworks and to discharge them on their own property or on another person’s property with permission on the following days: New Year’s Day; Chinese New Year; Cinco de Mayo; Memorial Day weekend; Juneteenth; July 3, 4, and 5 and the Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays preceding and following; Labor Day weekend, Diwali; and New Year’s Eve.

State law permits local governments to restrict the dates and times when individuals may discharge consumer grade fireworks or to impose a complete ban on the use of consumer grade fireworks.

Adams said for police officers to properly enforce the law, the firing off of fireworks must happen in police presence. If officers can identify who fired the personal fireworks they will cite the individual. If not, they will issue a warning.

According to city officials, the use of personal fireworks within city limits is a first degree misdemeanor punishable by six months in jail / $1,000 fine.

“It’s a safety issue,” said Adams, adding that fireworks can injure people and start fires.

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