By Morgan Pilz, Staff Writer
They still could happen, but town celebration canceled
(June 11, 2020) Berlin’s celebration scheduled for July 3, has been canceled and the fireworks display will be postponed, the mayor and Town Council decided Monday.
Economic and Community Development Coordinator Ivy Wells told the council the town wouldn’t have been able to hold the celebration in any case, because of crowd size restrictions that are in effect throughout the state.
“We cannot have our fireworks celebration due to the fire marshal not giving out any fireworks permits because of the rule of no gatherings of 10 or more people,” she said. “I spoke to Matt Owens, the fire marshal, and he confirmed that.”
The town has a June 15 deadline set by the fireworks contractor to make a decision. Wells, however, believes that’s too soon to make the correct call, but did offer three other solutions.
“Number one, we postpone the fireworks to next year,” she said. “We lose $2,500, but it’s a $5,000 deposit, so we lose that but the other $2,500 goes toward the deposit for next year, or, we could postpone them for another date this year.”
The town has until the beginning of 2021 to use the fireworks for a different event, though it would still have to pay an additional $5,000 for the new event.
Wells also suggested doing an event to celebrate all the festivities the town had to cancel due to the virus once restrictions have been removed, assuming it occurs this year. She calls the event the “Berlin is Back” festival.
She also warned the council that using the fireworks display for Labor Day weekend would not work, since several other municipalities were planning on holding events that day and the town’s contractor would be booked.
“Working with Tom Perlozzo in the county, one of the things he had planned was an event in the day, and have the fireworks at night,” Wells said. “The county wants to help but I don’t want to pile on too much throughout the day.”
Town Administrator Jeff Fleetwood supported the decision to cancel the Third of July activities based on the decision from surrounding counties.
“The knowledge that we have now about the permit, we didn’t know that yesterday,” he said. “But let’s assume we could have gotten that permit, and gone with the July 3 date, I would not have recommended that. I would have recommended we did pull it because a number of municipalities have canceled.
“My fear from a logistical standpoint, in going to a new site, I have a fear on that,” he continued.
Mayor Gee Williams agreed, saying there were “too many moving parts” at this current time, but hopes an event can be scheduled without so many “moving parts” to get in the way.
Councilmember Thom Gulyas asked Town Attorney David Gaskill whether it would be possible to get a refund for the $2,500 lost for the event, but Gaskill said that the options Wells suggested were the only solution.
Gulyas moved to cancel the July 3 event and postpone the fireworks display for a later date, which was voted unanimously by the council.