OCEAN CITY — Fourth of July fireworks in Ocean City, a staple of the summer season for decades, will not happen again this year as a labor shortage for the vendor has postponed the annual event, resort officials announced on Tuesday.
In 2020, the annual Fourth of July fireworks show was postponed during the height of the pandemic over concerns about the large crowds in a small area the event would draw. In 2021, with COVID waning, Fourth of July fireworks downtown and at Northside Park were set to return, but as the vendor’s crew were off-loading the pyrotechnics from a box truck on the beach at Dorchester Street, one of the explosives detonated unintentionally, causing a chain reaction that set off other fireworks at the scene.
The result was a series of explosions that sent a plume of smoke into the sky that could be seen from miles away. Out of an abundance of caution, the town’s Fourth of July fireworks shows downtown and at Northside Park were cancelled. On Tuesday, resort officials announced the annual Fourth of July fireworks show was cancelled again this year, this time because a labor shortage with the vendor would not make it possible.
Ocean City officials received surprising news on Tuesday when they learned the two fireworks shows scheduled for downtown and at Northside Park would not go on as planned. The fireworks vendor contracted to provide the two shows for both holiday celebrations told resort officials that labor shortages resulted in having inadequate staff to host the events as planned.
Town officials immediately began contacting additional vendors in the hope of finding a new supplier for both of the cancelled shows. For the record, the town of Berlin’s Fourth of July fireworks show is still on as planned, although it is believed Berlin has a different vendor. City Manager Terry McGean said Ocean City was quickly pivoting in a different direction to provide entertainment on the mid-summer milestone.
“You know what they say when things don’t go as planned,” he said. “You make a new plan, which is exactly what we’ve done.”
The outcome of the quick turnaround comes with fresh dates and several unique lineups, including a free concert by American Idol star and Salisbury resident Jay Copeland. The town’s new plan includes events uptown and downtown on July 3 and July 5. On July 3, an intimate Independence Day celebration is planned in conjunction with the Sundaes in the Park event, featuring a 7 p.m. concert by Mike Hines and the Look, followed by a condensed fireworks show at 9 p.m.
On Tuesday, July 5, at 8 p.m., Copeland will take the stage at Northside Park as part of the Fourth of July celebration. Also on July 5, Ocean City will feature live music beginning at 8 p.m. and fireworks beginning at 9:30 p.m. The show will be a departure from Ocean City’s traditional Independence Day fireworks display and will include pyrotechnic elements from Celebrations Fireworks Company.
Due to the height of the new fireworks display, residents and visitors are urged to view the show from the beach between the pier and 3rd Street. In other words, the modest show won’t likely be visible throughout the downtown area and beyond as usual. McGean said the new plan is not ideal, but would provide ample opportunities for residents and visitors to celebrate the holiday.
“We faced a bit of a twist this year, but our staff was determined to put on Independence Day celebrations our residents and visitors could enjoy,” he said. “Although we would have loved to host our traditional celebrations on July 4th, I think the spirit of Independence Day will have the same great impact no matter what day we celebrate. This year, we have three great ways to celebrate, including a free concert by Maryland’s very own American Idol Jay Copeland.”