The Fourth of July fireworks show in Seaside is canceled because of concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.
“It has become very clear in our current economic climate, for the safety of our community, as well as the unknown framework of when we’re going to relax some of the large-scale gatherings, the fireworks show just doesn’t work for 2020,” Seaside Chamber of Commerce CEO Brian Owen told the City Council at Monday’s meeting.
The show typically brings nearly 50,000 people to Seaside from throughout the Northwest.
This year’s celebration would have fallen on a Saturday evening, drawing concern that it could bring record numbers. With cancellation of the 57th annual Fort Vancouver fireworks show, officials feared crowds could overwhelm Seaside. “If we’re the only one going, we could have 75,000 people at the beach,” Mayor Jay Barber said.
Officials estimate an annual economic impact to the city of more than $20 million.
Owen said he worked with the city to make the decision to cancel.
“It’s a good decision, but a difficult one,” Barber said.
Along with fireworks, the city hosts an annual Independence Day parade, drum and bugle corps and an old-fashioned social at the Seaside Museum & Historical Society.
Discussions are ongoing on how the daytime celebrations will be treated, Assistant City Manager Jon Rahl said.
The city’s visitors bureau has regularly provided $20,000 to $25,000 in tourism grant dollars to the chamber to fund the fireworks.
But the remaining cost — estimated at $50,000 — is provided by local businesses and community donors for pyrotechnics, security, setup, port-a-potties and more.
“Every single year businesses show up and they’re there,” Owen said.
Seaside businesses are worried about their employees during the coronavirus. “That’s the No. 1 thing I’m hearing — the health of their employees,” he said.
“That really saddens my heart, because it’s one of my favorite events of the year,” Owen said. “Not only is it our Independence Day, it’s a community day. We get to see all our family and friends. We get to highlight the Seaside community from morning till night.”
Numbers hold in Clatsop County
As of Wednesday, the Oregon Health Authority reported 2,446 cases and 101 deaths from the virus statewide. The health authority tracked 460 test results in Clatsop County, including six positive cases.
The county Board of Commissioners voted last week to extend the county’s emergency declaration related to the COVID-19 pandemic and the emergency order closing hotels, vacation rentals and campgrounds to May 31.
The declaration, originally adopted March 16, enables the board to take actions specific to the county in addition to those declared by the state.
Exceptions come for campground visitors who have longer-term reservations dating from March 11, as well as campground staff, hosts and people employed in the county on a temporary basis. Pools, spas and other public bathing facilities also remain ordered closed.
Limited library services
Esther Moberg, director of Seaside Library, said the library remains closed to the public.
This week, the library will mail out books to people with library cards, so they can place holds, Moberg said. “The following week we hope to start curbside services with library cards. The building is closed, but we’re offering limited services.”
Virtual storytime for children is available on the library’s Facebook page.
Serving up breakfast
With events postponed or canceled through the end of May, Seaside Civic and Convention Center General Manager Russ Vandenberg, convention center staff and Oregon Fine Foods teamed up to provide three free breakfasts, serving 200 breakfasts at each.
The first breakfast offered pancakes and sausage to first responders and health care workers within the county. The second and third breakfasts served first responders and anyone who has experienced hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
City Council meets via Zoom
Zoom meetings are the new normal for Seaside City Council, as the council continues to maintain its regular meeting schedule.
While the doors remain locked, “we remain mostly fully staffed,” Assistant City Manager Jon Rahl said. “We’ve set up with an alternative schedule with staff, to help with good distancing measuring. We are there and accepting phone calls and operating as normal as possible.”
The next council meeting is scheduled for May 11.