Fireworks Off; Memorial Day Parade Still On

The skies over Compo Beach will be dark this Independence Day holiday.

For the second straight year, the annual fireworks display has fallen victim to COVID. The decision was made by town officials, in collaboration with the sponsoring Westport Police Athletic League board.

First Selectman Jim Marpe made the announcement moments ago. The press release says:

Information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, current and expected guidance from the State’s Department of Health regarding large-scale events, and the continued uncertainty of the pandemic and its variants have been considered. Based on this information, it is in the best interest of residents, visitors, employees and the organizers to forego this highly attended event this year.

Although mask wearing rules are being relaxed and we are headed toward widespread vaccination, the CDC and other health and government officials continue to recommend social distancing in large gatherings of any kind for the foreseeable future.

Scenes like this at typical July 4th fireworks went into the decision to cancel this year’s event.(Photo/Rick Benson)

Westport Weston Health District Director Mark Cooper said, “The CDC recommends that everyone, fully vaccinated or not, should social distance and continue wearing masks in crowded settings and outdoor venues like concerts and sporting events where you will be around large groups of strangers. In most outdoor scenarios, the transmission risk is low. However, when outside in places where you are likely to be with many people from outside your household, people must maintain social distancing and should still wear face coverings.”

As a practical matter, there is no way to enforce social distancing and mask wearing in the crowded environment of the Compo Beach fireworks event. It is inadvisable to plan for an event like the annual fireworks display where thousands of people congregate in close proximity and cannot socially distance. The possibility of alternative sites was considered, but all of them created even greater concerns regarding accessibility, safety and logistics.

Unfortunately, there is no luxury of taking a “wait and see” approach to determine where the community is in its COVID recovery efforts come July. The logistics and the need for early planning, permitting, and funding, as well as arranging for the display itself, requires significant lead time.

PAL is the longtime sponsor of this annual event, and, although the Town is very much involved in planning and conducting, it is not town funded. The decision as to whether to hold this major, large-scale event needed to be made now, based on the information available at this time, and in coordination with all the organizers.

Fireworks will return in 2022. (Photo/David Squires)

Marpe said, “I am disappointed that this year Westport could not hold the large celebration we had hoped for. But our town has come too far in our successful battle to overcome COVID to risk a possible setback by conducting a major gathering prematurely. I am happy that this year’s July 4th holiday still offers an opportunity to celebrate safely with smaller groups of families, friends, and neighbors.

“We have had tremendous support from so many individuals and town organizations throughout this past year. It took a community-wide effort to manage this devastating health crisis. We have not yet completed the race, but we are closer to the finish line, and nearing a return to normalcy. I am confident that next year’s celebration at Compo Beach will be the most memorable one in many years.”

Marpe noted that the annual Memorial Day parade will be held as scheduled on Monday, May 31. Crowds along the parade route are less dense, and the event is of shorter duration.

The Memorial Day parade will be held as scheduled this year. (Photo/Fred Cantor)


9 responses to “Fireworks Off; Memorial Day Parade Still On

  1. Understandably conservative decision to cancel fireworks despite the very high % of Westport vaccinated and the outdoor nature of the event. Disappointing but a politically safe, and perhaps scientifically safe, decision. Not sure how the parade is a go though since it too is outside and one would expect many people in “close quarters” with arguably fewer people vaxed now than in July?! Science seems to lead to a similar outcome yet the town made a split decision. Odd.

  2. Nancie Rinaldi

    41.15% of CT residents are vaccinated according to Beckers Hospital Review which is tracking state vaccination statistics. While we’re #2 in the nation behind Maine that still leaves almost 59% of our state not vaccinated (I do realize a significant portion of this number is probably teens and young children).

  3. Tom Feeley Sr.

    No comment 🇺🇸

    • Dave Eason

      Hi Tom..I have some comments but unfortunately they are not fit for print. The inmates really are running the asylum…What a damn shame.

  4. Glenn Albert Ferrari

    Great way to kill what little town spirit is left. Thanks Jim!

  5. Adrian J LIttle

    Glenn – So how many town residents is it OK to kill for the sake of one night of fireworks…??

  6. Adrian J Little

    CTDPH Releases Data on Covid-19 Vaccine Breakthrough Cases, Highlighting the Vaccine’s Effectiveness Against the Virus
    Cases of fully vaccinated residents contracting virus “very rare”
    As Connecticut surpasses the 50% mark for Connecticut residents ages 16 and over who are now fully vaccinated, the Department of Public Health today released data on vaccine breakthrough cases, which clearly show that the COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective at fighting the virus. So-called “vaccine breakthrough cases” occur when a person who has completed their vaccine series becomes infected with the COVID virus. The data show that cases of COVID-19 in fully vaccinated individuals are rare, with less than 0.1 percent of Connecticut’s fully vaccinated persons reported to DPH as having contracted the virus.

    Of the 1,467,189 persons who have completed their vaccine series, 242 have been confirmed as contracting COVID-19. Of those, 109 (45%) had no symptoms of the disease.
    Three deaths have occurred among the 242 vaccine breakthrough cases. All three individuals were confirmed to have had underlying medical conditions and were in the following age groups: 55-64 (1), 65-74 (1), and 75+ (1). Nationally, the CDC has reported a total of 132 vaccine breakthrough deaths.

    “The main takeaway is that COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective and cases of infection after a person is fully vaccinated are very rare. The best protection against severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19 is vaccination, and I strongly urge all eligible Connecticut residents who have not yet gotten vaccinated to do so,” said Acting DPH Commissioner Dr. Deidre Gifford.

    In addition to the overall number of breakthrough cases, DPH also announced that of the 242 breakthrough cases:

    159 (65.7%) cases were among women
    58 (24%) cases occurred among persons living in congregate settings (i.e. – nursing homes, assisted living facilities)
    32 (13.2%) cases have been hospitalized
    “The vaccine is our most powerful tool against COVID-19, but these rare instances of infection after vaccination are a reminder that no vaccine is 100% effective. As long as we continue to see cases of COVID in Connecticut, it is important to continue the use of the other tools at our disposal: masking when indoors and in large outdoor crowds, hand washing, social distancing, and limiting gathering sizes when vaccination status is unknown,” added Acting Commissioner Gifford.

  7. Stacy Prince

    This is the kind of “conservative” I appreciate!

  8. James Waldron

    To quell all good citizens disappointment with the cancelation of the fireworks, the 1st selectman will be offering all Westport residents a $5 Domino’s pizza voucher. Mangia all!