Resort Officials Warn Against Private Fireworks

OCEAN CITY — With no official fireworks in Ocean City on the Fourth of July, the town’s Fire Marshal’s Office this week warned about the dangers of private pyrotechnics on the holiday and the potential penalties.

Last week, resort officials announced the vendor for the annual Fourth of July fireworks show downtown on the beach and uptown at Northside Park had to back out because of labor issues.

The cancellation resulted in town officials, including the special events department, scrambling to provide alternatives over the holiday weekend. As a result, there will be a concert and small fireworks show on Sunday at Northside Park in conjunction with the weekly Sundaes in the Park event. On Tuesday, the town will feature live music and an abbreviated, but more intense, fireworks show downtown.

The absence of an official fireworks show on the actual Fourth of July, however, creates a void that could, and likely will, be filled by the private sector. Each year, there is no shortage of private sector fireworks show on the holiday and that will not likely change. However, with no official town-sponsored fireworks shows on the Fourth, that could intensify.

Ocean City Fire Marshal Josh Bunting urged residents and visitors not to fill the gap with their own, potentially dangerous, fireworks shows.

“While we appreciate the connection our citizens and visitors have with fireworks and Independence Day, we’re hopeful that the town’s two fireworks shows on Sunday at Northside Park and Tuesday, July 5 on the beach at Talbot Street will be well-attended and folks will leave the fireworks to the professionals,” he said. “Hand-help sparklers and small novelty items like poppers or snakes, for example, are legal for use in Ocean City and may be enjoyed on the beach or backyards in the presence of a responsible adult.”

Bunting said his department and the police department would be out strongly enforcing the town’s ordinances on private fireworks over the weekend.

“Ground-based sparklers, while legal in other areas of the state, including Worcester County, remain prohibited in Ocean City due to the more dense, urban nature of our town,” he said. “Larger consumer fireworks are illegal for use anywhere in the state of Maryland,” he said. “Confiscation, criminal citations or fines up to $1,000 may be issued for fireworks-related violations by police officers of fire marshal’s working in town throughout the holiday weekend. As in the past, our office will pursue appropriate criminal charges for the reckless discharge of fireworks that place lives and property in danger.”

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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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.