Note: This story was updated at 11:30 p.m. June 10.
The July 4 Fireworks Celebration in Oak Ridge has been canceled this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a press release, the City of Oak Ridge said the challenges related to COVID-19 include:
- The Oak Ridge Community Band has canceled its performance.
- Surrounding areas have also canceled similar events.
- Those attending the July 4 Independence Day celebration would not be able to successfully follow the social distancing requirements established by the State of Tennessee and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The city said there is a risk of larger crowds and more traffic because other nearby events have been canceled. Oak Ridge City Manager Mark Watson said residents can instead spend time with family and friends at home.
The City of Oak Ridge could have a fireworks celebration later, but that will depend upon COVID-19.
It’s not the only July 4 celebration to be canceled as the state and nation continue to respond to the pandemic.
In May, the City of Kingston announced that Smokin’ The Water on July 4 has been canceled. Kingston said there was no way to maintain social distancing given the size of the crowd.
“As much as we wanted to do it, the public health concerns were just too great,” the City of Kingston said.
Also, those fireworks are funded by donations, and the city didn’t think it was appropriate to ask businesses and people to contribute at a time when so many are struggling.
“We’re all disappointed, but feel this is the right thing to do,” the City of Kingston said. “Thank you for understanding, and please know that we’ll be back next year bigger and better than ever!”
The annual Festival on the 4th celebration in Knoxville has also been canceled because of concerns about COVID-19.
Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank posted on Facebook on Monday that she thinks local residents can enjoy fireworks despite COVID-19 restrictions. The county once hosted fireworks across from the marina at Melton Lake Park when there was a “glitch” in the show in Oak Ridge. She said hosting the fireworks may take a lot of work and partnerships and goodwill, and she asked for input.
On Tuesday, Frank said she had received more than 500 responses, and more than 300 of those wrote about the importance of the celebration. Frank said she had received offers to help. She said she would work on logistics in the next 24 to 36 hours and report back with her plans.
The discharge of fireworks is prohibited in Oak Ridge without a permit.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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