Detroit's Ford Fireworks to be TV-only event in August

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

Detroit — Instead of grabbing lawn chairs and gathering at Hart Plaza, spectators will tune in to watch the annual Ford Fireworks from their homes in August.

Mayor Mike Duggan and the Detroit Parade Company made the announcement Wednesday, saying the show that had been scheduled for June but could not be held during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Ford Fireworks burst over downtown Detroit on June 24, 2019.

Instead, the 62nd annual Ford Fireworks will be turned into a televised special on Aug. 31. The theme for the three-hour show, to be shown live on WDIV (Ch. 4)  is "We Are One Together," with stories of front-line workers in the city to be featured. 

"It will be the best firework show that this country has ever seen," said Tony Michaels, president and CEO of The Parade Company. "There's no question that people are getting hurt, every day. But to be able to put this on and give people some hope this summer, that is spectacular and world-class, that's a good feeling, and to be able to honor the first liners that night in a really big way, that's really key."

A 2,000-person rooftop fundraiser has been canceled. Detroit police will restrict Hart Plaza and prevent people from congregating to watch the show in person.

The mayor also spoke on 93 miles of road construction projects — including 44 miles of major roads — planned for this summer, many of which are underway using safety protocols.

"It is a combination of how bad the road is and how much traffic is on it," Duggan said. "We are continuing to see the infection rate of city workers at 4-5%"

People are seen wrapped in blankets at the annual Ford Fireworks at Hart Plaza. The 62nd show will be broadcasted on television due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Duggan also spoke on Detroit Means Business, a coalition offering support for thousands of small businesses in the city.

The coalition, with a donation from DTE Energy, is offering free personal protective equipment Detroit businesses with 50 or fewer employees when they register online at, which launched Monday. 

"We have the experts, we will show you how to bring people back in a way that you don't lose financially," Duggan said, encouraging businesses to join a Thursday webinar by the coalition.

Detroit added four new deaths Wednesday, for a total of 1,282 coronavirus-related fatalities, 11 fewer than recorded Tuesday.

"Rates are continuing to drop ... 57 deaths a week ago, 22 deaths in the last seven days. We are down more than 90% in four weeks," Duggan said Wednesday. "If we continue to keep wearing the masks every day ... we'll be able to reopen our businesses and get people back to work."

The city added 80 confirmed cases on Wednesday, bringing the total to 10,524.

Officials have tested 1,600 residents in about 30 facilities such as rehab centers and long-term care homes, with an infection rate of 2%. The city plans to retest residents in 26 nursing homes.

Detroit is widely known for festivals, parades and outdoor summer activities, but Chief Public Health Officer Denise Fair continues to urge caution.

"These are times that will test our fortitude because many of us love the summers in the city," Fair said. "We'll call upon our venues that host these amazing gatherings to be creative and be innovative (on) how they're planning on welcoming back customers and guests."

Twitter: @SarahRahal_