Some fireworks canceled; Millsboro, others still a ‘go’

Exploding fireworks reflect off Indian River at Cupola Park during the 2019 Stars & Stripes III event. Delaware State News file photo

MILLSBORO — Celebration of America’s independence is still several months away and already COVID-19 has defused plans for some events.
Pyrotechnics shows in Millsboro, Laurel and Bethany Beach are not on the cancellation list. Not yet anyway.

While social distancing concerns and logistical issues have lowered the boom on fireworks in Dover and Rehoboth Beach, the Greater Millsboro Chamber of Commerce continues to map out plans for Stars & Stripes IV.

Saturday, June 27 remains the scheduled date for the community extravaganza that, if held that date, will feature an evening celebration at Cupola Park capped by the pyrotechnics show professionally launched over nearby Millsboro Pond just after dusk.

“It is all contingent upon what is going on with the restrictions,” said Kevin Turner, president of Greater Millsboro Chamber of Commerce. “God willing, everything does open up. But it’s going to take some coordination between the guidelines, talking with the town, talking with the Millsboro Police Department, and to see what we are able to do. Fingers crossed that we do have it that weekend. If not, then it will be rescheduled for Labor Day Weekend.”

In Laurel, home to a longstanding, daylong Independence Day celebration, discussion is in the works for a modified version, one that might include a band at Laurel Market Square Park, fireworks and maybe a parade, all with social distancing.

“Where we are right now with this, we think it’s a little bit too early to call,” said Laurel Mayor John Shwed. “What we have been thinking about is a modified version of the celebration. Normally we have food vendors. Maybe we cancel all the food vendors and all that stuff. Maybe the people would enjoy sitting six feet apart in the park and hearing a band play or something, because we’ve been all cooped up for so long. By the time we get to July, maybe we could do something like that. I know the nation is looking at opening its parks, again, the national parks. Maybe even no parade unless the people would volunteer to stay six feet apart. So maybe the fireworks and a band or something like that.

“We have not decided to call it off yet,” said Mayor Shwed. “We’re looking at a way to have a scaled-down event where we would have less direct contact. That’s where we are right now. And if things take a turn for the worse for some unforeseen reason then we may have to throw in the towel. Right now, we are not ready to do that.”

Large gatherings are prohibited under Gov. John Carney’s State of Emergency modifications. Gov. Carney last week said that Delaware may take gradual steps toward reopening in the near future, but it will take a long time before things come close to normalcy.

While Bethany Beach’s scheduled summer events, including the parade, entertainment and fireworks July 4 Independence Day celebration, are still on, the town directs the public to stay tuned to its website for updates.

“The coming weeks will determine the impact that COVID-19 will have on our summer season. Our concerts are booked, our movies and events are planned, our fireworks are contracted for,” the town states on its website.

Last week, Dover canceled of its fireworks show.

On Friday, the city of Rehoboth Beach announced cancellation of its Independence Day fireworks on July 3 and the Bandstand Summer Concert Series through the July 4 weekend. All permitted special events scheduled through the holiday weekend are also canceled, and the city is working closely with the event producers to cancel their events.

“The health and safety of the community is our top priority and at the forefront of all decisions made during this unprecedented and rapidly evolving situation,” said Rehoboth Beach Mayor Paul Kuhns. “It is difficult to accept that these cherished events cannot continue as planned this year. We look forward to the day when we can all come together once again and celebrate the events that make Rehoboth Beach such a wonderful and connected community.”

The status on other fireworks planned in the region were unavailable.

Mr. Turner has his fingers crossed in hopes things will be back to normal in two months. Ideally, he is hopeful a decision will be made two weeks before the pre-planned date of June 27.

“June is my target. I want to rock it and sock it and get it done,” said Mr. Turner. “I think it would be a nice welcome back for everybody, just a celebration that we’re not stuck in our houses.”

The cost for the Millsboro Chamber’s fireworks, staged by Brothers Pyro Inc., of Bridgeville, is just about covered through sponsors. The town of Millsboro and Mountaire Farms top the list as Firecracker-level sponsors, followed by Starburst sponsors Sussex County Council, Jack Lingo Realty and Daisey’s Well Drilling.

“The sponsorship, what we have so far, we’re going make it by,” said Mr. Turner. “But because of businesses closing and having payroll to worry about and all of that stuff, I’m not going to push it. They’ve got bigger things to worry about. We are very grateful for what we have gotten so far.”

Five food vendors will be on hand for the pre-fireworks celebration at Cupola Park: Chick-fil-A; Coneheads Ice Cream; Grotto Pizza; Fat Daddy’s BBQ and Kona Ice.

The event will be open to craft vendors, probably a week or so before the event. Disc jockey entertainment plans are still in the works.

This year, there will not be a mega-50/50 raffle or sale of T-shirts.

Stars & Stripes, the Greater Millsboro Chamber’s single marquee event of the year, has drawn rave reviews for its fireworks display.
For now, it’s planning while playing the waiting game.

“Right now, everything is up in the air. We’re just waiting,” said Mr. Turner. “It would be a nice welcome back to reality.”

Stars & Stripes IV Sponsors

Firecracker Sponsorship: Town of Millsboro, Mountaire Farms.

Starburst Sponsorship: Sussex County Council, Jack Lingo Realty, Daisey’s Well Drilling.

Bottle Rocket Sponsorship: Parker Block, First Class Heating & Air, Valvoline Instant Oil Change, Benchmark Physical Therapy, M&T Bank, Fulton Bank.

Sparkler Sponsorship: Dagsboro Paint & Wallpaper, Custom Mechanical, Melvin Joseph/Stockley Materials, AirBase Carpet Mart, Invisible Fence Brand, Grotto Pizza, Cadia Rehabilitation Renaissance, Avery Hall Insurance, Tidemark Federal Credit Union, WSFS, First Shore Federal, Farmers Bank of Willards.

Popper Sponsorship (other): PNC Bank.

Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage
Reopening Delaware: Resources for Businesses
Delaware Phase 2 guidance

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