July Fourth parades are canceled, but will Juneau see fireworks this year?

People watch the fireworks launched from Gastineau Channel for the 2017 Fourth of July celebration. (Photo courtesy Matt Miller)
People watch the fireworks launched from Gastineau Channel for the 2017 Fourth of July celebration. (Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO)

Fourth of July festivities won’t be happening in Douglas this year.

On Tuesday, the Douglas Fourth of July Committee announced it had canceled the annual parade and celebration — including beloved events like the fire hose race and the soap box derby — in response to public safety concerns from COVID-19.

As of last week, the committee was still planning to hold the event, but wrote on Facebook that it was closely monitoring state and local health mandates.

“They were making plans hopefully having the parade, but being realistic that they will probably be canceled,”said Mayor Beth Weldon.

When the Juneau Assembly discussed the matter at its meeting Monday, assembly members agreed that a parade was not advisable with social distancing guidelines. Weldon said the city reached out to the committee Tuesday to let them know.

Juneau’s downtown Fourth of July parade is organized by a separate group. It was canceled back in March, in part due to ongoing construction along Egan Drive this summer.

As for the capital city’s annual fireworks show, that too was discussed by the assembly on Monday.

Weldon said the city is still deciding whether the show can go on.

“We’re open to suggestions … if people can think of ways that we can do the fireworks, or a place to do the fireworks that people can see them in their cars or something like that,” she said.

The fireworks need to be ordered soon, but could be kept in storage until next year if this year’s show is canceled. The annual July 3 display is organized by the volunteer-run Juneau Festival Association.

Brett McCurley typically puts on popular amateur fireworks shows on Sandy Beach for the Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve.

He ran into some trouble with the city over local and state code for fireworks last year leading up to the Fourth of July, only to have private fireworks displays banned by the state. But he still did the annual New Year’s Eve show this past winter.

He said he thinks having people watch the show from their cars could work.

“I mean there’s multiple places where you can go and have enough people park and stay in their cars and watch the show,” McCurley said.

It might be best to have two separate shows — one downtown and one in the Valley — to allow plenty of space for parking.

If the city wants to talk, he said all they have to do is give him a call.

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