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While many Maine communities have canceled Fourth of July fireworks shows due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Greenville will continue its tradition of lighting up the skies to celebrate America’s independence Saturday night — albeit with a few changes.
The parade and craft fair typically held during the day preceding the town’s annual fireworks have been canceled this year, and the fireworks have been moved from downtown along the Moosehead Lake waterfront to the municipal airport off Pleasant Street, all with an eye toward social distancing.
“For a lot of townspeople this is kind of the kickoff to summer, and this is not only to celebrate America’s birthday but this year is also Maine’s 200th birthday, which unfortunately has kind of gotten squashed by the whole COVID thing,” said Greenville deputy town clerk Bethany Young. “We want to have this celebration to thank our citizens and those who are loyal in coming to the Moosehead Lake area.”
The decision to hold this year’s fireworks display came when a plan developed by Town Manager Mike Roy and Young received the Greenville select board’s 5-0 approval on June 10.
“We decided to hold off as long as we could to cancel because when COVID-19 hit a lot of towns were canceling a lot of these events,” Roy said. “Our hope was some of the mandates or regulations or restrictions would loosen up a little bit, so we decided to wait and see how things were going.”
Fireworks watchers now will be encouraged to park at the airport and view the show from their vehicles or from lawn chairs or on blankets nearby.
Airport parking for the 9 p.m. fireworks show will open at 6 p.m. with volunteers — including members of a local ATV club — on hand to guide vehicles through the two available entrances to designated parking areas.
“We’re going to utilize half the airport but we won’t be near any aircraft or any hangars,” Roy said. “We’re far away from them.”
Roy said there will be a “carry in-carry out policy” regarding bringing refreshments to the show in an effort to limit trash, and no vendors will be on site to minimize the potential of people congregating at any particular location.
“We felt that with having the fireworks at the airport there would be a better opportunity for people to see them from their vehicles or around their vehicles and there would be room for social distancing, unlike downtown where everybody’s elbow to elbow,” Roy said.
Young and Roy said there also are other vantage points where the fireworks may be seen, including from the lake and various high spots in the area such as along Route 15 entering town.
A sizable crowd is anticipated for the show, but Roy said local police will be on duty for traffic and crowd control.
“We’re just trying to provide some normalcy in this time of ‘can’t do this, can’t do that,’ and we’re trying to find a way to make it happen for the town and the businesses in town,” he said. “We’re hoping people will come into town and get something to eat, buy a T-shirt or a sweatshirt and after that go to the airport, enjoy the fireworks and have some patience when they leave.”