Aside from the neighborhood variety of fireworks that have already started firing off around DeSoto County as the Fourth of July approaches, the official sparkling and resonating lighted celebrations of Independence Day in the county this year will be more muted than in past years.
The coronavirus pandemic has forced DeSoto County cities to sharply consider and reconsider whether to hold city celebrations.
Hernando, Horn Lake, and Olive Branch officials have decided they would not hold official Fourth of July events this year, believing it would be difficult to impossible to keep people socially distant and safe from the threat of COVID-19.
“Upon the advice of local health professionals, and in following CDC and MSDH guidelines, the Board of Aldermen/women recently voted to cancel the fireworks show and July Fourth activities scheduled at the Olive Branch City Park this year,” said Olive Branch Mayor Scott Phillips when asked what might happen in his city this weekend. “Although we are disappointed, we believe this is the best decision for the health and safety of the public.”
Southaven will be the exception, as city officials there have chosen to go ahead with a fireworks show on Saturday, July 4, although even that will not have the same look as the event has had in past years.
There will be no concert held or concessions served at the BankPlus Amphitheater. Food vendors will also not be allowed at Snowden Grove Park. The evening will be fireworks only, beginning at 9 p.m.
Mayor Darren Musselwhite said there will be other precautions taken to provide a safe event.
“The permanent seating area will be closed at the BankPlus Amphitheater opening only the lawn area for proper social distancing,” said Musselwhite. “By its nature, a fireworks show can be seen and enjoyed from a distance, so it makes perfect sense that we can use the entire Snowden Grove Park area to distance people, while still allowing them to enjoy the show.”
Beyond the lawn area of the Amphitheater, the Snowden House lawn area, the BankPlus Sports Center parking lots, Snowden Grove Park parking lots, Snowden Grove Tennis Complex parking lots, and the Springfest BBQ area will be available to watch the fireworks display.
The Field of Dreams playground will be closed on July 4 as it will be the setup area for the fireworks display that night. Visitors will be strongly encouraged to disperse and leave the area immediately at the conclusion of the show.
Musselwhite said city officials want the evening to be an emotional lift to an area still dealing with the pandemic.
"We felt that our people needed this event to uplift their spirits after all that has happened this year when we decided to move forward with it,” said Musselwhite. “It's a great tradition in Southaven and we are determined to help our people enjoy it this year in a safe manner.”