Fireworks fizzle out: Organizers cancel Ontario’s event to prevent large spectator groups

Fireworks are launched over the Malheur County fairgrounds in Ontario on July 4, 2018. The annual show is canceled this year due to the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.

ONTARIO — Ontario will not be lighting up the night sky with fireworks to celebrate America’s independence this year.

“It is canceled,” said Ontario Chamber of Commerce President and CEO John Breidenbach in a phone interview on Monday morning of Ontario’s annual Fourth of July fireworks display, which is typically launched at the fairgrounds and is coupled by many gatherings of spectators in local parks.

“We can’t take a chance having a mass gathering at the parks.”

Breidenbach said how the safety of the community is a top priority. He also said that the feedback that he has received has ranged from positive to negative, with some of the comments lauding the decision to cancel this year’s festivities.

Reaching out to Ontario Fire Chief Terry Leighton, the Argus received information regarding safe practices socially and when people are setting off fireworks themselves at home or another location.

“Anytime there is a presence and handling of fireworks there is a fire safety concern,” said Leighton in an email message received on Tuesday morning.

He added that it is his hope that people follow the guidelines given by state and medical professionals regarding social distancing (which includes small gatherings at home), and that he also hopes that this means less use of fireworks in residential areas will be lessened as a result.

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