GREG LOWER

Chanute’s planned Fourth of July fireworks display and concert this weekend have been cancelled in the wake of an increase in coronavirus (COVID-19) cases locally.

“It was a hard decision,” organizer Larry Pierce said.

Fundraising for this year’s display met its goal, despite uncertainty over the COVID-19 outbreak that began in March. The City of Chanute donated $12,000 from Transient Guest Taxes to fund the show, concert and beer garden in connection with Saturday’s holiday.

Pierce said the rental company that provides bounce houses expressed concerns about holding a gathering, and bands were concerned about audience numbers because of social distancing. They also raised issues with travel from different areas, and people did not want to participate in an event where others may become sick.

“I was getting a lot of concern,” Pierce said. “Let’s just not take that chance.”

He said the pyrotechnic company, 2Kirks Fireworks from Topeka, had been worried since the Kansas City display was cancelled.

“The citizens of Chanute really wanted this party. I wanted this party,” Pierce said.

He said people are encouraged to attend local displays in Thayer and at Elks Lake.

There is an insurance policy on the event, Pierce said. Over the past decade, displays have been cancelled due to heavy rain, flooding and an accident that caused all the fireworks to go off at once.

Pierce said the money already raised will still go towards a Chanute display. He said 2Kirks Fireworks, which has done the Chanute display for three years, can schedule it at any time.

There will be additional fundraising prior to the 2021 Fourth of July display, but Pierce said he expects to keep the show at 20 minutes because that timing works best.

The COVID-19 outbreak previously cancelled this year’s Safari Days in Chanute.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment will release new figures today, but Tuesday Neosho County reportedly totaled 32 cases, including 11 that had recovered.

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