NEW PORT RICHEY — A pandemic with a highly contagious virus does not mix well with crowds of thousands tightly squeezed together to watch America’s traditional July 4th fireworks celebrations.
The nation’s birthday will not be the same, even for places like New York and Boston, which have canceled their plans.
The same is true of Pasco County.
Like so many of the surrounding Florida counties and communities dealing with a sharp spike in the number of COVID-19 cases, Pasco County will see almost no community celebrations.
Both Port Richey and New Port Richey have canceled or postponed their annual fireworks extravaganzas, citing the need to prevent the thick crowds during the era of coronavirus.
The only major event found on the local July 4th calendars is the Patriotic Ride and Roll, sponsored by Main Street New Port Richey, which is planned as a two-hour parade of decorated bicycles and golf carts beginning at 11 a.m. Independence Day.
Details on participating can be found at www.nprmainstreet.com.
However, it is now more than likely fireworks in the backyard will be more prevalent than ever and officials are sending out their traditional safety tips for those who want to try to maintain some of the July 4 tradition.
“I think people right now are bored,” said Ronnie, who appreciates the familiarity of just using first names as he man’s one of his 23 Florida fireworks tents in Port Richey.
“I’ve not seen many come by yet,” he said a little more than a week from fireworks’ biggest day. “But, they usually don’t start coming until around the first and I expect the more the word gets out there won’t be any of the big shows this year, more people will want to buy their own. They want their kids to see what it’s like.”
Fireworks can be done safely, but officials urge caution especially in neighborhoods where one runaway rocket could be cause of someone losing their house to a major blaze.
They urge those who want to shoot their own fireworks to have the permission of their neighbors and to double check with the local fire departments for any restrictions placed by city ordinances that can differ from city to city.
In some cases, noise ordinances may also apply in restricting the hours of the exploding night parades.
The National Council of Fireworks Safety recommends the following safety tips:
• Obey all local laws regarding the use of fireworks.
• Know your fireworks; read the cautionary labels and performance descriptions before igniting.
• A responsible adult should supervise all firework activities. Never give fireworks to children.
• Alcohol and fireworks do not mix. Save your alcohol for after the show.
• Wear safety glasses when shooting fireworks.
• Light one firework at a time and then quickly move away.
• Use fireworks outdoors in a clear area; away from buildings and vehicles.
• Never relight a “dud” firework. Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.
• Always have a bucket of water and charged water hose nearby.
• Never carry fireworks in your pocket or shoot them into metal or glass containers.
• Do not experiment with homemade fireworks.
• Dispose of spent fireworks by wetting them down and place in a metal trash can away from any building or combustible materials until the next day.
• FAA regulations prohibit the possession and transportation of fireworks in your checked baggage or carry-on luggage.
• Report illegal explosives, like M-80s and quarter sticks, to the fire or police department.
For more information, contact the Port Richey Fire Department at 727-816-1910, the New Port Richey Fire Department at 727-853-1032, or Pasco County Fire-Rescue at 813-929-2750