Middle Township has reluctantly announced that the Township’s Fourth of July fireworks show will be postponed until Friday, Sept. 4.
The decision came following Gov. Phil Murphy’s daily COVID-19 briefing on Wednesday. During the press conference, Murphy affirmed that limits on outdoor gatherings would not increase from 250 to 500 people until Monday, July 6. When the state first discussed the expansion of outdoor gathering limits three weeks ago, paving the way for open-air graduations, the date to allow 500 people was set as Friday, July 3.
“After thoughtful discussion and input from our key Department Heads, we have made the difficult decision to postpone our celebration of Independence Day,” Mayor Tim Donohue said. “We know this decision will be disheartening to many of our residents, just as it is for the members of Township Committee. We delayed the final call for as long as possible. But without the approval of increased outdoor capacity, we would put the Township in danger of liability and put our police department in a difficult situation regarding the enforcement of the Executive Order.”
Middle Township was one of the few towns in Cape May County that had not canceled its Fourth of July event. The Township had pared down the holiday celebration to a fireworks-only activity, and established a number of protocols to maintain safe social distancing and manage capacity.
“I believe we had a solid plan in place for a safe celebration,” said Committeeman Jim Norris, who oversees the Recreation Department. “But with no increase in capacity and a developing trend nationally of new cases related to summer gathering, Township Committee had to make the tough call to postpone the fireworks. The safety and welfare of both our visitors and residents has to always come first.”
The fireworks contractor has agreed to a postponement. The Township is now planning to kick off Labor Day Weekend with a Celebration of America, on Friday, Sept. 4.
“This a setback on our road to recovery, but we have come too far as a community to risk all the sacrifice and hard work by so many,” Deputy Mayor Ike Gandy said. “We encourage folks to gather safely with friends and family to celebrate the birthday of this great country, and to pause and reflect on the common values of faith, family and freedom that bind us together as Americans. We will celebrate those bonds in style, when the time is right. In the meantime, stay safe, stay healthy and have a great holiday weekend.”
On July 4, the Township will stream a compilation of previous fireworks shows, along with patriotic music, from 9 to 10 p.m. on its Facebook page at facebook.com/middletownship <https://www.facebook.com/middletownship/> .
The Township will share more details on its Sept. 4 Celebration of America in the coming weeks.