An annual fireworks extravaganza in Fort Worth will go on as scheduled this Independence Day, but there will be some modifications due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Shanna Cate, programming director for the Tarrant Regional Water District, said the decisions and planning have not been made lightly.
“You just want the community to be happy. TRWD wants to provide a quality of life. The fireworks show has always been something people look forward to, but safety is so important right now,” Cate said.
The water district has been a presenting sponsor and host of Fort Worth’s Fourth, the largest show in North Texas. It’s typically a full day of festivities followed by the fireworks show, Cate said.
“This year, we took all the ground effects out and added some bigger shells to make it go even bigger and go higher and larger, so people can see it from a distance. See it from afar,” she said. “The big difference is this year, Panther Island Pavilion will be completely shut down. So, no vehicular or pedestrian access. We are asking the public to not come to the venue. Also, the main arterials in the area will be shut down.”
Because the fireworks will fly higher, Cate said they are encouraging people to either watch from their homes or enjoy them in areas where they can maintain distance. On the day of, she said there will be barricades in place by the pavilion and nearby roads.
Last week, orders issued in Tarrant County and Fort Worth required that those outside in groups of 100 or more to wear a mask. They also require businesses to ensure both workers and patrons wear masks when inside, with some exceptions like eating and drinking.
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Fort Worth Fire Chief Jim Davis has been working the city’s emergency operations center during the pandemic.
“My specific responsibility is towards the public safety aspect of it, working with police and fire to keep our members safe, so we can continue to help the public and basically be problem solvers,” Davis said.
Asked about the upcoming weekend, Davis said he recognized and respected the "fatigue" felt by the public as it relates to the ongoing pandemic.
“I think it’s important for them [the public] to realize, the numbers in our community are rising. They’re not leveling off, they’re not going down. We’re actually involved in a fight here with an enemy we can’t see,” he said. “This isn’t getting better. We have not leveled off. We are still seeing a rise. We’re still seeing community spread. We can make a difference, but this does not have to be a conversation about our economy versus our health. We can have both. We just need to be mindful. We need to be honest with each other that it’s going to take a little bit on each side of the conversation in order to keep a lid on this pot.”
Echoing public health leaders as cases of COVID-19 continue to climb in North Texas, Davis urged the public to continue keeping a safe distance, discouraged large gatherings and encouraged wearing masks if they plan to be out or are in areas they cannot stay 6 feet apart.
“We know they [masks] work because we see the healthcare providers taking care of the sickest of the COVID patients. Yeah, there is some spread in hospitals, but for the most part, these amazing people in our hospitals are doing great work but they’re also doing it safely,” he said. “I don’t think there’s any intent or interest on anyone’s part to take a hardline enforcement approach, but we’re hoping through general reminders good conversation that we can get people to just respect each other and do the right thing.”
For more information on this year’s Fort Worth’s Fourth, click here.