Grosse Pointe Woods ready to cancel this year’s Fourth of July fireworks
Grosse Pointe Woods appears poised to cancel this year’s annual Fourth of July fireworks display, scrapping plans to move the show to a gated, city-owned park in St. Clair Shores.
The seven-member City Council agreed this week at a committee-of-the-whole meeting that the city should pull the plug on the fireworks, at least for this summer.
Mayor Bob Novitke said having the display at Lake Front Park turned out to be impractical. Security concerns at last year’s show had led officials to look into moving the fireworks.
“We ended up recommending to ourselves to cancel the fireworks,” said Novitke. “We haven’t taken any official action on the floor.”
He said the council will likely vote on the recommendation at its next meeting, scheduled for March 16.
Responding to concerns about fights and reported gang activity at last summer’s fireworks display, officials announced late last fall that the show would be moved from Parcells Middle School’s athletic field near Vernier Road and Mack Avenue to the park in St. Clair Shores, about two miles away.
At least 13 fights were reported among a crowd of unruly youths, even though there were 35 Grosse Pointe Woods police officers and 60 other city employees on-site to provide security.
This year’s show would likely have been held June 28 at the city’s Lake Front Park on Jefferson Avenue in St. Clair Shores. Only Grosse Pointe Woods residents are allowed into the park, which is on the shores of Lake St. Clair, and they have to show a park pass to enter.
Plans called for having St. Clair Shores Police manage traffic, and for the pyrotechnics to be launched from a barge in the lake — which would require permits from the U.S. Coast Guard.
“We ultimately said we’d do them there if it was feasible,” Novitke said. “But as the city administration got information together, it just wasn’t going to happen with all the permits and costs.”
Councilman Kevin Ketels said it’s disappointing to lose the fireworks, but he acknowledged there were major crowd control problems during last year’s event and said the city isn’t equipped to deal with them.
“The fireworks display is a long tradition here in Grosse Pointe Woods and we worked really hard to explore other options to make it work,” he said. “It’s a big holiday and a lot of folks watch the show from their own homes and invite friends and family.
“It’s unfortunate people won’t be able to do that this year because of problems with controlling such a large crowd,” he said.
Meanwhile, Novitke said there’s a consensus among the council to extend the hours of the city’s annual picnic on Aug. 1 to fit in more family-friendly activities, such as cardboard boat races, pony rides and live music. The event is scheduled to run from noon to 3 p.m.
“We still want to do something that emphasizes that sense of community,” the mayor said.
Novitke also said city officials will revisit the idea of holding a fireworks display next year.
“But it’s kind of up in the air,” he said. “We’ll revisit it in October to see if it’s feasible.”