By Jim Bloch
The Fourth of July fireworks display in downtown St. Clair, one of the biggest annual attractions in the city, has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
City Clerk Annette Sturdy made the announcement at the regular meeting of the city council on May 4.
“After much deliberation of all parties involved, the annual 4th of July fireworks display has been cancelled,” said Sturdy. “While there are many factors to consider, the event is funded primarily through donations which, at this time, may be better directed to the economic relief of others in our community. The fireworks committee, along with the other partners in the event, will continue to communicate and if the event can be rescheduled, the news will be shared appropriately.”
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Food vendors line the east side of North Riverside Avenue during the event. Visitors spread out blankets in the city’s riverfront Palmer Park beginning early morning on the Fourth to reserve viewing spots. Residents with along the river host private fireworks viewing parties. Last year, bands played in the courtyard of the Riverview Plaza before and after the show. The fireworks are ignited from a barge owned by Malcolm Marine. The display lasts close to a half hour. After the grand finale, viewers heading home create the largest traffic jam of the year, with all of the city’s local and major streets jammed with vehicles.
“Annette, who made the decision to cancel the fireworks?” asked council member Jon Watt.
“There’s a fireworks committee and we talked to our vendors, like the barge, and some of our donors that contribute to the event,” explained Mayor Pro Tem Mike LaPorte. “If anything shakes loose, the committee will stay active. If we get a date when we can get that many people to congregate in the community, (we’ll do it), but it won’t be July 4. I can’t see how that can happen.”
LaPorte estimated that the event draws about 7,000 people to the city.
“We had a lot of discussion,” said LaPorte. “It’s a lot of work. But it’s a great event… If something comes up later and we can do the event, the committee will become very active again and try to pull it off.”