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Fireworks will boom, but without a crowd

Update: The Central Point Chamber of Commerce later canceled the Fourth of July fireworks show, as we reported in this June 8 follow-up story. Below is our original May 8 report.

The Fourth of July in Central Point this year will be a lot quieter throughout the day, but it will still end with a bang.

The city of Central Point, the Central Point Chamber of Commerce and the Expo announced in a joint press release Friday afternoon that most of the activities planned for Independence Day will be canceled in light of COVID-19 restrictions in effect through July 6.

“We’re all very upset about it,” said Nikki Petersen, special events and marketing coordinator with Central Point Parks and Recreation. “But it is the right decision, ultimately.”

The list of cancellations covers most of the day: the Run4Freedom in the morning, the 4th of July Parade, and the Freedom Festival at Pfaff Park are all canceled. Spectator viewing at the Boom Fest Fireworks display at the Expo is also canceled.

But the fireworks show will go on.

The city entered into a contract with a company that puts on the firework show months in advance, Petersen said.

“The cost to cancel is not inexpensive,” she said.

The small number of staff needed to run the show, and the ability to maintain physical distancing during the event, made the case for keeping the fireworks going.

A desire to not let Independence Day pass by without a celebration also motivated staff, Petersen said.

“From a heart standpoint, we couldn’t imagine having nothing for the Fourth of July,” she said. “We had to think of the one thing we could do safely, and this was just a clear winner for us.”

City staff worked with the fireworks contractor to adapt the show in response to the Expo closing to the public. The fireworks will more heavily feature high-flying pyrotechnics that can be seen from a greater distance, said Petersen, which should make the show visible to more people.

The usual celebrations bring in about 14,000 people each year, Petersen said. This is the first time she could recall Fourth of July events being canceled.

“That’s going to be the hardest thing for people — to lose this sense of community and camaraderie,” she said. “We know this is a highlight for them.”

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Kaylee Tornay at ktornay@rosebudmedia.com or 541-776-4497. Follow her on Twitter @ka_tornay.

A fireworks display takes place at the Red, White and Boom celebration [Mail Tribune / file photo]