Big bang 2019 fireworks

Fireworks light up the sky above Alamitos Bay on Wednesday, July 3, for the Big Bang on the Bay.

The last slim chance of a 2020 Big Bang on the Bay fireworks show has been swept away by a surge in cases of COVID-19.

John Morris and Boathouse on the Bay restaurant have been producing a July 3 fireworks show over Alamitos Bay since 2012. In previous years, a large street party accompanied the fireworks show, raising money for Long Beach charities.

The street party was canceled some time ago in the face of state prohibitions against gatherings of large groups. But a final decision to cancel the fireworks didn't take place until Thursday, June 25.

"The state continues to prohibit gatherings, and with the thousands of people who attend this very popular event, there would be no way for us to prevent large gatherings if the event took place," City Manager Tom Modica said via email Thursday evening.  "Additionally, this past week we have seen positive cases rise significantly, primarily among younger populations, and our positivity testing rate has increased from 6.3% when we received the (Los Angeles) County variance to now 8.4%, in excess of the state guideline of 8%."

The other major fireworks shows in Long Beach, one over the Queen Mary and the other along the waterfront on Rainbow Harbor, had been canceled in May.

Morris had held out hope that the fireworks show could take place if the organized party was pulled. 

"We have everything in place," Morris said on June 15 via email. "The pyro tech needs a minimum of four days, June 29, notice. So we will be on standby like everyone else. (We're) keeping our fingers crossed."

But Thursday he was resigned.

When asked how he felt, Morris said, "Disappointed. But I  understand the city's concerns. Next year Big Bang on the Bay returns."

Councilwoman Suzie Price, whose Third District includes Alamitos Bay, said health had to take precedence over an evening of fun.

"While I am extremely disappointed that this event will not happen this year, as it is a community tradition that my family and I and many others look forward to every year, I understand the rationale for not allowing it," Price wrote in an email Thursday evening. "The city’s COVID rates are rising at an alarming rate, as are the rates throughout the state of California.

"Exercising prudence in terms of avoiding large scale events that would draw huge crowds of people to be in close proximity with one another, makes sense at this time."

Harry has been executive editor of Gazette Newspapers for more than 26 years. He has been in the newspaper business for more than 35 years, with experience on both weekly and metropolitan daily papers in Colorado and California.

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