TIFFIN — Due to social distancing guidelines and budget shortfalls, Tiffin City Council decided during its meeting Monday evening that the Independence Day fireworks display would be postponed until later in the year.
Council decided to allow Mayor Aaron Montz’s administration to determine which date a city-sponsored fireworks display will occur in 2020, with Labor Day weekend and the Heritage Festival weekend being discussed as potential options.
Figures for 2020 show the city with a loss of nearly $700,000 in revenue so far compared to 2019.
In addition, maintaining social distancing guidelines at Hedges-Boyer Park with the fireworks display would present challenges, council determined.
The city was squeezed to make a decision on the fireworks display before Friday, May 22, as a contract with the fireworks supplier had to be signed by that date. The contract would include a shipment of fireworks with a “shelf life,” so they could not be ordered now and held for use until later this year, Mayor Aaron Montz said during the meeting.
Councilman Steve Lepard said although the fireworks display is an important event for many Tiffin residents, the best move for council to make would be to postpone it.
“I remember Council President Paul Elchert always saying that the Fourth of July picnic in the park is ‘vacation’ for a lot of our residents, and how important it was,” Councilman Steve Lepard said. “I agree with that, but I also think it’s going to be a waste of our money signing a contract this coming Friday for the Fourth of July not knowing what’s going to happen. Maybe we could save that $20,000 for now, and postpone it until the Heritage Festival if it works out right with the governor’s orders.”
Councilwoman Bridget Boyle said she agreed with Lepard about the event being somewhat of a “vacation” for Tiffinites, adding that she doesn’t think families would be able to enjoy themselves at the park with all of the guidelines in place for mass gatherings.
Councilman Dawn Iannantuono agreed with Boyle, saying she believes holding the fireworks display on or around the Fourth of July would cause the city to be “taking a heck of a chance.”
“I was thinking the same thing when you were talking about dates further out, I was thinking Heritage Festival also unless that ends up getting canceled. With all of these restrictions, it just doesn’t seem worth it and we would be taking a heck of a chance to try to do that, so I would say postpone it and make a decision later on to do it later in the year,” Councilwoman Dawn Iannantuono said.
Councilman Dan Perry expressed his desire to have the fireworks display on Independence Day, but concurred with other council members that it would present many challenges.
Councilman Ben Gillig said he feels holding the fireworks display on or around the Fourth of July would be a logistical “nightmare.”
“I sort of feel like the Grinch that stole Christmas just taking things away, but this just may be the year we all look back on, you know the year without so many things. Logistically, I just feel like it’d be an absolute nightmare. We’d already be looking at substantial overtime costs for our police, and then what are we going to do? Because if you’ve seen people out in public, a lot of folks have had about enough of social distancing,” Councilman Ben Gillig said. “To say nothing of the costs, I just feel like this year, postponing is going to be our best option for now.”
Councilman Ken Jones said it only takes a “handful of people to spoil it for everyone,” adding that he believes the fireworks display should be canceled completely for the year due to budget shortfalls. “If we’re down $700,000, and we don’t have an extra 15 to 20 thousand dollars to blow up in fireworks, maybe we ought to just take the tough stand and say we’re not going to do it in 2020,” Jones said.
Councilwoman Dawn Iannantuono said in response to Councilman Jones’ concerns regarding budget shortfalls that private citizens, companies, and organizations have stepped up in the past to donate to the fireworks display fund.
Councilman Tyler Shuff agreed that the fireworks display should be postponed and the determination of a date to have one later this year should be deferred to the mayor’s administration.
The decision to postpone the fireworks and defer the decision on a later date in 2020 to the mayor’s administration was approved by a vote of 6 to 1, with Councilman Ken Jones being the only “no” vote.