MCCALL, Idaho — The annual Independence Day fireworks display over Payette Lake in McCall has been canceled this year due to concerns about crowds and an inability to maintain social distancing at the event.
The decision by the McCall Area Chamber of Commerce and the City of McCall was announced Wednesday.
"It is really disappointing to not host the fireworks show on Payette Lake this year," Lisa Johnson, McCall Area Chamber event committee chair, said. "But the health and safety of our community and guests is our primary focus."
Instead of fireworks, the community will hold Fourth of July weekend events including drive-in movies, a drive-up concert by Jeff Crosby, a patriotic boat brigade, a light-up caravan, and more. Additional details about the city's celebration plans will be released in early June, officials say.
The decision to skip fireworks in 2020 was "not made lightly," city leaders said in a press release. But without a viewing space where hand-sanitizing stations could be set up and social distancing would be possible, officials said they opted for events that could meet health and safety guidelines and help prevent the spread of coronavirus instead.
A survey sent out to gauge public opinion on canceling the show was a close-to-even split: Of the 838 people who responded, 51.6% were in favor of the fireworks show going ahead, while 47.5% thought it should be canceled or were unsure. The city and Chamber of Commerce also held planning meetings with local law enforcement and public health officials to see whether the fireworks event could safely go foward.
"With regard to fireworks this year, it is my opinion that we cannot, in good conscience, promote an event that jeopardizes public health by going against all social distancing and medical recommendations," McCall Chief of Police Justin Williams said. "This risk is simply too high."
The city also looked into whether an alternate location could be found to allow for better social distancing at the fireworks show, but none of the proposed locations met both fire and crowd safety criteria.
"The annual fireworks show is just one aspect of the way our community celebrates the Fourth of July," Lindsey Harris, director of the McCall Area Chamber, said. "This year, we will still be celebrating freedom and our country. We will just be doing it in a different way that better protects our people and our community."
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