Unlike the other events that have been canceled or shortened this year, Ocean City’s announcement fireworks will not be held on the 4th of July is an embarrassment.
Weather led to the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and associated festivities being canceled. Springfest was shortened by flooding. A windy day cut the two-day Jellyfish Festival in half. These are weather driven changes in plans, but Ocean City having to issue this announcement is disappointing: “The firework company contracted to provide fireworks for both holiday celebrations told officials that labor shortages resulted in having inadequate staff to host the events as expected.” This was to be the first year of a three-year contract with a new vendor after last year’s daytime fireworks mishap. Attempts to find another vendor on short notice for this year were evidently unsuccessful.
This marks the third straight year fireworks will not be held on Independence Day in Ocean City. Fears of crowds gathering amid uncertain times in pandemic year 2020 made for an easy call for city officials. Last year the accidental discharge led all fireworks shows being canceled. The video of the fireworks going off during the daytime on a beautiful day made national news. This year’s announcement – two weeks before Independence Day — the vendor did not have the personnel to pull off the displays is inexcusable.
The reason given is a labor shortage. Worker issue and supply chain problems are often cited as reasons to explain unfortunate realities today, such as increased costs for everything, delays in shipping and reduced business hours of operation, just to name a few. It’s absurd, however, for a vendor to not honor a fireworks contract with a municipality for the Fourth of July because of manpower issues. It’s ridiculous.
Maybe the 4th of July snuck up on the vendor and it was just realized two weeks before there was not enough manpower to pull off the events. It’s highly unlikely and unprofessional and Ocean City should end the vendor contract. One fireworks display – rather than the two planned — would have been at least a must. The downtown display should have taken place at a minimum. Instead, a beach resort with world-class amenities will not have fireworks on Independence Day. Smaller displays with live music are now planned for July 3 uptown and July 5 downtown.
Meanwhile, as Ocean City cancels its large-scale fireworks displays and tries to make the best of it, Ocean Pines will hold its typical Fourth of July festivities with fireworks and Berlin will hold its traditional July 3 display. No manpower issues plagued their efforts.
It’s been three years since Ocean City has had its typical Fourth of July fireworks displays. The previous years were understandable and unfortunate, but much needs to be learned from this year’s announcement. This cannot happen again.