Evart July 4th fireworks canceled

City council voted not to co-sponsor event

EVART - The Evart Area Chamber of Commerce has decided to cancel the July 4th fireworks, as well as the parade and Party in the Park.

Chamber president Eric Schmidt said, since the council decided not to support the event, the chamber had no choice but to cancel it.

"City council said we can not use the city's land, and we don't have an alternate spot where we can do it," Schmidt said.

After months of discussion, and tabling the issue several times, the Evart City council voted 3-2 against sponsoring the event at its meeting May 18, in essence, leaving it up to the Chamber to decide whether to move forward with it or not.

The following day, the cancellation was posted on the Chamber's Facebook page.

Council member Dan Elliott made the motion not to do the fireworks this year, saying he did not think it was in the best interest of the city.

"I don't see how we can effectively keep people apart," Elliott said. "Plus, with people coming here from down state and the Chicago area, I do not feel comfortable asking our police, fire, sheriff's department and volunteers to take on trying to police over 10,000 people. I just think it's a bad idea."

Mayor John Joyce said as public servants, they are there to protect the city's assets and the city's people, and he did not see how they could do that by moving forward with the fireworks at this time.

"It's a big disappointment," Schmidt said. "People are upset that it is not going to happen. Steps could have been taken to protect everyone, but it is out of our hands. It's the city's property, and they said no.

"I can understand the council's concern with regards to the parade and the Party in the Park, but the fireworks would be the one place we could adhere to the social distancing requirement," he said. "I think their main concern was putting the city workers and volunteers in jeopardy working the event."

It has been suggested that the fireworks could be moved to Labor Day weekend, or even the 911 anniversary, which falls on a Friday this year, Schmidt said.

At a previous council meeting, Joyce said he could see it being moved to a later date, but they would have to wait and see what happens with respect to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's executive orders being lifted.

"This will probably be the last fireworks in the city of Evart, because of construction that will be taking place at the airport," Schmidt said. "We are currently looking for another suitable location for future fireworks."

One possibility is the golf course, where people could park in the field next to it, but that takes people out of the city, he said.

"Having it inside the city is ideal, because we want to bring those people to our city," he added. "We want them to eat in our restaurants and shop in our shops. That's the whole idea behind these events."