TO ALL NEIGHBORS & FRIENDS:
The fireworks committee (made up of representatives from all three civic leagues–CHX, OPK, BLP), along with a member of Virginia Beach Fire Marshall’s office and our shooter met last night to discuss the effects of this storm and the fireworks show. Additional phone discussions involved the Coast Guard, the Virginia Beach department of special events and public safety.
After much discussion regarding the safety of pulling this off, we collectively agreed to move the fireworks to
SATURDAY —- JULY 12 — at 9:15 p.m.
Several issues played a part in making this decision. Rain, wind and rough seas would delay loading, which was to happen today and takes roughly 10 hours. Likewise, the high wind from the north, waves and swells on Saturday morning would make it dangerous to leave the dock and travel the slow 10-hour trip to the location. Although the evening looks to be beautiful with a possibility of one-foot waves and 5mph winds out of the north, the procedure of getting to that point is unsafe. Staffing issues within the city to pull this off and safety of all personnel involved also came into play.
The date of next Saturday instead of this Sunday night was chosen for several reasons. Our permits were for July 4 with a July 5 rain date. The moving parts are very complex. It required a huge effort to get new permits issues waiving the 90 days for the Coast Guard and the 30 days for the city. There was simply not enough time to call in all the staff involved in this effort. Police, marine patrol, coast guard, EMTs, fire marshals all have to be in place. The barge and tug had to be available for that day. The shooters all have to be available and background-cleared. Additionally, our public safety people are scheduled to work, without exception, and some on overtime, on the Fourth of July. Many of them had the following days off. To call them in from their planned family and rest time would have been unacceptable, especially after they’ve worked so hard this week to scramble and deal with not only all the fireworks shows in the city, but the greater preparations for what could have been a category two hurricane.
This has really been a joint effort to pull this off and a joint decision that was tough to make. Much discussion and debate has resulted in what everyone agrees is the best decision. Public safety, fire marshal, Coast Guard, city special events–all have been very gracious and overly helpful in establishing emergency last-minute permits, providing advice, coordinating with us and supporting us.
I know you all are as disappointed as I am but it all comes down to the main reason we have this type of barge show on in the first place—SAFETY. Arthur has created what has always been understood as the worst case scenario. No one ever thought we would have a tropical storm fall on this holiday. In true Shore Drive spirit, I’m recommending we simply have two celebrations now: Arthur parties this weekend and fireworks parties next weekend.
Thank you for your support and understanding.
Ocean Park Civic League