OC Likely To Switch Fireworks Providers

OCEAN CITY — It could be out with the old and in with the new after resort officials this week approved an agreement with a new fireworks provider for the Fourth of July and other events.

For years, the Town of Ocean City has contracted with Celebrations Inc. to provide many of its fireworks shows. Last spring, the Mayor and Council agreed to the contract with Celebrations for the Fourth of July with the caveat alternative dates would be explored if the Fourth of July was a no-go because of existing restrictions on gathering sizes.

The Fourth of July show was ultimately postponed last year, and other dates were considered, including the rescheduled OC Air Show. Ultimately, the show planned for the Fourth of July was moved to New Year’s Eve.

Celebrations Inc. is contracted for the Fourth of July fireworks show this summer, but Special Events Director Frank Miller told the Mayor and Council this week the company is looking to get out of its agreement. Miller explained Celebrations Inc., like many other fireworks and special events providers, took a financial hit last year when many events were cancelled because of the pandemic.

“COVID did cancel a lot of fireworks shows, including many of those produced by Celebrations Inc.,” he said. “Due to the pandemic, the company laid off several fireworks teams and has pulled the spread of shows to focus on regional travel only until they are in a better financial position to revisit remote show sites.”

Miller said, for those reasons, Celebrations Inc. was looking to back out of its agreement with the town.

“They have had to lay off employees and scale back their show presentations,” he said. “They’re looking to get out of their agreement if we can find another provider.”

Miller said he has identified another provider for this year’s Fourth of July and the company is seeking an option for two more shows for the town of Ocean City.

“We have found another company,” he said. “The new provider would do the Fourth of July show in 2021 with an extension option to include New Year’s Eve this year and the Fourth of July in 2022.”

Miller said the Starfire Corporation has provided a draft contract to provide the Fourth of July show this year for the same $55,000 the town had agreed to pay Celebrations, including an option for the other dates.

“The recommendation is to accept Starfire for the Fourth this year with the options for New Year’s Eve and next year’s Fourth depending on the success of this year’s celebration,” he said. “If an agreement is reached, we will release Celebrations Inc. from the old agreement.”

The council unanimously approved the change in provider pending a legal review of the pending contract.

About The Author: Shawn Soper

Alternative Text

Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.