BRANDON — The fireworks planned for July 3 in Brandon will be moved to September to punctuate a planned celebration of the town itself.
The fireworks display and street dance were the last vestiges of an Independence Day celebration curtailed by a dwindling planning committee and now the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We had hoped that we would at least be able to offer the fireworks display on July 3,” Brandon Independence Day Celebration Committee member Susan Stone said. “However, after protracted discussions, we have determined that we do not have the manpower or equipment to guarantee appropriate social distancing at such a large event, and we feel that to risk the possibility of a new outbreak of the virus would be irresponsible on our part.”
The fireworks will go off on Sept. 25 for the Celebrate Brandon event being planned by the Brandon Area Chamber of Commerce. Initially planned to celebrate the end of the two-year Segment 6 upgrade of Route 7 through downtown, the celebration will now have a broader focus celebrating Brandon and all the town has to offer.
“The hope is that by then, we’ll be able to gather safely as a community and not miss out on fireworks,” Brandon Rec and Economic Development Director Bill Moore at a select board meeting Monday night.
Northstar Fireworks was already scheduled to do the fireworks on July 3 for a limited Independence Day celebration. The BIDCC announced last winter that the parade, once the largest in the state, would be cancelled because it did not have a larger enough committee to pull it off. The committee was also having trouble booking bands for the parade since July 4 actually falls on a Saturday this year. Brandon traditionally holds its Independence Day parade and celebration on the first Saturday in July. Marching and drum bands for the parade could be booked and still march in other parades on the actual Fourth of July. That is not the case this year, with bands booked well in advance for the Fourth in other towns.
The Brandon parade had been cancelled months ago, but now with the pandemic, most festivals and parades scheduled in Vermont this summer have also been either cancelled or postponed. Large gatherings have been prohibited and social distancing measures are mandated.
“We realize that we are disappointing many, and we are truly sorry,” Stone said, adding that many other surrounding towns will have fireworks and local residents can make plans to watch those displays. “The rest of us will just consider Independence Day postponed until September 25 for this year. Next year we will be back in full operation, in our brand new downtown, and hopefully with a larger committee!”