By Jason Starr
The Town of Williston plans to proceed with an Independence Day fireworks show.
The show is planned for a 9:30 p.m. start on July Fourth in a field between Walmart and Gardner’s Supply. Landowner J.L. Davis Realty has offered the field for the show.
The town typically launches its July Fourth fireworks show from Allen Brook School. But pandemic-related concerns about physical distancing prompted the town to look for a location where viewers could be more spread out. There are nearly 2,500 parking spaces in the retail area near the field from which to view the show.
People will be asked to park their cars at least 6 feet apart — using every other space — and to refrain from gathering in groups of more than 25, per Gov. Phil Scott’s current state of emergency order.
According to Town Manager Rick McGuire, Williston’s Independence Day fireworks display was held in the same field in 2001.
The selectboard cancelled the town’s July Fourth parade two weeks ago, but held out hope for a fireworks display. The town’s fireworks vendor asked for a decision this week. During a videoconference meeting Tuesday night, a majority of the board — Ted Kenney, Joy Limoge and Terry Macaig — voted to move forward with the show. Board member Jeff Fehrs did not support the idea, citing safety concerns. Board member Gordon St. Hilaire was absent.
The town plans a campaign to alert residents to the new location, provide suggestions on where to watch the show and urge them to observe physical distancing and limits on large gatherings. With other towns and cities, such as Hinesburg and Burlington, having already cancelled their July Fourth fireworks shows, Williston administrators expect a regional crowd.
They acknowledge that enforcement of distancing requirements and gathering restrictions will be minimal.
“We’re not in any position to enforce it,” McGuire said.
“It will be up to people to make the proper choices and keep themselves safe,” said Recreation and Parks Director Todd Goodwin.