Fourth of July fireworks should not be canceled

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Finnegan Courtney ’23

The fireworks this Fourth of July in Westport have pretty much faded out of existence, due to the town’s decision. But it’s absolutely clear now it shouldn’t have.

Finnegan Courtney ’23, Paper News Editor

Unlike most years, the fireworks that fire right over a crowded Compo Beach around Independence Day, celebrating our country’s most patriotic day of the year, will not be occurring. 

Westport has decided to not hold the event for the second year in a row due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This decision was made by town officials, done in collaboration with the Board of Trustees of the Westport Police Athletic League (PAL), due to there being “no way to enforce social distancing and mask wearing” at the event.

I am disappointed that we will not be able to experience the marvel of our once yearly fireworks, and I find their decision and the accompanying logic behind it lacking sense and comprehension. 

Firstly, our government has announced that those who are fully vaccinated don’t have to wear masks inside certain places and that vaccinated individuals do not have to wear masks outdoors. Connecticut has one of the highest vaccination rates in the entire country; therefore, most people in attendance shouldn’t be expected to wear masks. Secondly, across the country, sporting arenas and concerts are getting back up and running, mostly at full capacity either now or to come in the next few weeks. The Westport fireworks are held outside, so this further should hammer home the point that the decision to cancel them is the wrong one.

I am disappointed that we will not be able to experience the marvel of our once yearly fireworks, and I find their decision and the accompanying logic behind it lacking sense and comprehension. ”

— Finnegan Courtney ’23

Additionally, Westport recently held a Memorial Day parade and it went off without a hitch. No complaints, no cancellations over COVID-19; it went on and it went on great. So why, months after that parade, can Westport not hold the annual fireworks tradition? 

At the time of the decision, which was made in early May, the town said that they couldn’t take a “wait and see” approach with the event due to the planning, permitting and funding, which is understandable. However, the town isn’t funding the event, which goes to PAL. 

We are still weeks away from when this event usually takes place, so can they not pull off an event like this in that amount of time? I’m sure PAL wouldn’t mind providing the funding available for such a beloved event and the townspeople would surely support it. The reality is this, if they really wanted to have the fireworks, they could find a way. 

Yes, COVID is still a risk. In fact, there will always be a risk of it. But the world is starting to get back to normal, thanks to vaccinations and thanks to over a year of mitigating measures and standing six feet apart and mask wearing. With our high vaccination rate, we as a town would not be risking a possible setback by conducting a major event like this, a concern said by many, First Selectman Jim Marpe included.

But it’s not a major concern anymore with the strides that will continue to be made throughout this year. So to PAL, to the town officials, to Jim Marpe, to this town, I say shoot the fireworks off. I say I believe in this town doing this. And I ask of you, at the very least, give it a second look with the current information available and then, and only then, please make your final decision, keeping in mind how much Westport wants these fireworks.