July 4 display cancelled due to COVID concerns
'Pulling the plug' on Fireworks 2020
After working for more than a month to try and save our community's Independence Day Fireworks Show, Chamber officials on Wednesday officially "pulled the plug" on this year's event.
"This is the last thing we wanted to do," said Chamber Executive Director Kevin Gartland, "and I apologize to our residents -- and visitors -- that we couldn't get it done."
City and County officials late last month determined that the event -- which typically attracts 3-4,000 people to Whitefish City Beach -- couldn't be held safely, as COVID-19 "social distancing" guidelines would be impossible to enforce.
'Alternate locations' eliminated ... one by one
Not willing to give-up on the event, the Chamber identified three different alternate locations for the show, and worked with the City-County Health Department to come-up with a plan for safely staging the event. But one-by-one those locations were eliminated, as one hurdle after another presented itself.
"Johnny Shockey was ready to let us do a "drive-in theater" style fireworks show at his Big Mountain Ranch," Gartland said. "Then we found out that the pasture can't be hayed until a week or two after the Fourth, so that was out.
"Our last -- and best -- option was Smith Fields (by North Valley Hospital)," he added, "and we actually had a plan OK'd by the county, the Police Department and the hospital to do the show. Unfortunately, several big dollar donors didn't like the idea, and opted not to support the show unless it was held on Whitefish Lake."
Gartland thanked City and County officials for their assistance in trying to keep the community's longstanding July 4 tradition alive, and pledged that the event will be back in 2021, "bigger and better than ever."