The fireworks committee (made up of representatives from all three civic leagues–CHX, OPK, BLP), along with a member of Virginia Beach Fire Marshall’s office and our shooter met last night to discuss the effects of this storm and the fireworks show. Additional phone discussions involved the Coast Guard, the Virginia Beach department of special events and public safety.

After much discussion regarding the safety of pulling this off, we collectively agreed to move the fireworks to

SATURDAY —- JULY 12 — at 9:15 p.m.

Several issues played a part in making this decision. Rain, wind and rough seas would delay loading, which was to happen today and takes roughly 10 hours. Likewise, the high wind from the north, waves and swells on Saturday morning would make it dangerous to leave the dock and travel the slow 10-hour trip to the location. Although the evening looks to be beautiful with a possibility of one-foot waves and 5mph winds out of the north, the procedure of getting to that point is unsafe. Staffing issues within the city to pull this off and safety of all personnel involved also came into play.

The date of next Saturday instead of this Sunday night was chosen for several reasons. Our permits were for July 4 with a July 5 rain date. The moving parts are very complex. It required a huge effort to get new permits issues waiving the 90 days for the Coast Guard and the 30 days for the city. There was simply not enough time to call in all the staff involved in this effort. Police, marine patrol, coast guard, EMTs, fire marshals all have to be in place. The barge and tug had to be available for that day. The shooters all have to be available and background-cleared. Additionally, our public safety people are scheduled to work, without exception, and some on overtime, on the Fourth of July. Many of them had the following days off. To call them in from their planned family and rest time would have been unacceptable, especially after they’ve worked so hard this week to scramble and deal with not only all the fireworks shows in the city, but the greater preparations for what could have been a category two hurricane.

This has really been a joint effort to pull this off and a joint decision that was tough to make. Much discussion and debate has resulted in what everyone agrees is the best decision. Public safety, fire marshal, Coast Guard, city special events–all have been very gracious and overly helpful in establishing emergency last-minute permits, providing advice, coordinating with us and supporting us.

I know you all are as disappointed as I am but it all comes down to the main reason we have this type of barge show on in the first place—SAFETY. Arthur has created what has always been understood as the worst case scenario. No one ever thought we would have a tropical storm fall on this holiday. In true Shore Drive spirit, I’m recommending we simply have two celebrations now: Arthur parties this weekend and fireworks parties next weekend.

Thank you for your support and understanding.

-Jill Doczi
Fireworks Committee
Ocean Park Civic League

Fireworks Delayed until Saturday, 7/5

I just got off the phone with the special events department that holds our permit. They have not been given official word yet. They are having a meeting at 4:30 and should have official word by 6:00 pm. He feels comfortable with my announcing all of this and that it’s a pretty sure bet that all shows for Friday are cancelled and weather-permitting will be Saturday so people may start to make plans, but he stressed that he had not been given official word yet.

There are a few stipulations regarding the Saturday show and the storm as well. All governing and permitting parties must agree that every step of the procedure is safe to be carried out under weather conditions. The barge is supposed to be loaded Friday. It is supposed to leave dock Saturday at 9 a.m. and travel the waterways for about nine hours to get in place in the bay. Conditions must be safe throughout that time period. As always, this is a fluid situation, as all hurricanes are, and as soon as I have official word, you’ll have it. We’re all in this together. Plans C and D are also in the works, so rest assured we will have our explosive day!

There is concern about the projected path of Tropical Storm Arthur. Representatives are working with the fire marshal, public safety, Virginia Beach special events, the Coast Guard and the city manager’s office on safe and manageable alternatives. Additionally, the fireworks vendor is working very hard to establish backups to even the backups in place should we need them. One way or another, one day or another, this show will go on–safely for everyone. Shore Drive doesn’t let storms ruin our fun! Please look for updates here on our website, the Ocean Park Facebook page, and in your personal emails if the civic league has your address for upcoming information regarding the fireworks show. In the meantime please keep up with weather updates and make sure you’re personally battened down and safe.