Pandemic dims number of Detroit area fireworks shows

Ariana Taylor
The Detroit News

The Marshall family has always made it a tradition to go see the Ford Fireworks on the Detroit River every year, rain or shine.

When Jules Marshall's husband died, she still tried her best to keep the tradition alive and continued taking her kids to see the fireworks light up the night sky.

This year's show will be a little different, however. The Ford show, like several other fireworks displays that were planned for the Fourth of July, has been postponed or canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"I loved taking my kids every year ... but it's not the same when you watch on the TV," said Marshall, 36, of Westland. "This is just sad ... maybe I'll go buy fireworks and just do them again at home."

More than 30 displays of fireworks in southeast Michigan that were scheduled between the end of June and July 4 weekend are canceled. Many organizers and companies stated the cancellations are due to the difficulty of enforcing social distancing guidelines at events where large crowds are expected. 

The Clawson Fourth of July Festival, which usually holds a firework show, a parade, a carnival, and more, said in a news release that the decision to cancel was because "it would be next to impossible to enforce safe distancing at any of the various events offered."

"It is not known if this virus is recurring or will still be active even in those that are non-symptomatic in the month of June and July," said Michael Paquette, the president of the Clawson Fourth of July Committee, in the release. "It’s our hope that our community will be able to celebrate responsibly at their own homes on July 4."

Other fireworks displays have been postponed, including the Ford Fireworks show. The display, which has been a tradition in Detroit for going on 62 years, usually is held on the third Monday in June.

The Parade Company, which organizes the show, and Mayor Mike Duggan  announced in May that the show will be postponed to Aug. 31 and will be a TV event only. The display will be broadcast on WDIV Local 4 and will honor frontline workers. 

"In Detroit, it is always kind of disappointing that it's difficult to actually find firework shows on the actual Fourth of July," said Cat Hynek, 40, of Canton.

The Ford show, which Hynek says she and her family go to every year, is the only official Fourth of July fireworks display that's held in the city of Detroit. 

The Henry Ford Museum revamped its usual display of fireworks at Greenfield Village. Instead of the Salute to America program that occurs July 1-4, the museum moved the show to television as well. The museum partnered with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra to present an hour-long program on WDIV at 8 p.m. July 3.

Independence Day Fireworks

While there are more fireworks displays that have been canceled throughout Michigan, there are still a few shows that are scheduled to go ahead. Those shows include:

  • Independence Township and Clarkston will launch fireworks from the top of Pine Knob Ski Hill at 10 p.m. July 3. Residents can enjoy the show from their own backyards but no parking will be allowed at Pine Knob or the DTE Music Theater. All parking lot gates will be locked. 
  • The White Lake Citizens League in White Lake Township will launch fireworks from two barges on the southern end of White Lake on July 4 at 9:30 p.m. Although it's a private event for White Lake property owners, other residents can still view the display from nearby neighborhoods.
  • Waterford Township residents can catch a fireworks display around Maceday Lake, Loon Lake and Lotus Lake at 10 p.m. on July 4.