TARPON SPRINGS — Like nearly every city across the country, Tarpon Springs was forced to cancel its Fourth of July festivities last year due to the coronavirus crisis, including the annual picnic in Craig Park and fireworks display at Sunset Beach.
But after establishing safety protocols that must be implemented in order to host large public events, and with COVID-19 vaccinations becoming available to the public, city officials are looking to reinstate Tarpon’s popular Independence Day activities this year.
During the first Board of Commissioners regular session of the new year, the board voted unanimously in favor of paying Jupiter firm Pyrotechnico Fireworks $34,000 to hold a 30-minute firework display for the next five years beginning in 2021. The other option available was $25,000 for a 20-minute display.
“Well, 2020 was a very difficult year due to the coronavirus,” Mayor Chris Alahouzos said when the agenda item was read on Jan. 12. “We canceled just about every major event that we had, including the Fourth of July. I’m hoping in 2021, God’s will, the COVID-19 will go away so we can have a big celebration, and I prefer we do option B because I think our residents need to have a very good celebration for Fourth of July.”
The mayor’s four fellow commissioners concurred.
“I support option B as well,” Vice-Mayor Jacob Karr said.
Commissioner Connor Donovan added, “I think it’s a reasonable price increase for a much bigger event.”
After City Manager Mark LeCouris noted the deal would include an out-clause should they be forced to cancel the Fourth of July festivities again, the contract was quickly approved by a vote of 5-0.
Following the meeting, Mayor Alahouzos elaborated on the reason behind his decision to choose the more elaborate show. “We’ve got residents who are not able to go anywhere, and no events due to COVID-19,” he said. “So if it goes away and we can do a Fourth of July celebration, we need to have one that our residents can enjoy.”
Regarding the annual picnic at Craig Park, Alahouzos said the family friendly, midday event would also return in 2021 as long as special events can be held safely.
“The picnic will go on provided we can allow public events. … I know many people in Tarpon Springs look forward to the picnic as well as the fireworks every year,” he said.