YORKTOWN, Va. (WAVY) — A location that played a pivotal role in the founding of this country may not celebrate its 244th birthday with fireworks thanks to COVID-19.
On Tuesday evening, York County Administrator Neil Morgan recommended to the Board of Supervisors that the yearly display be canceled this year due to two factors: money and safety.
“It’s a big decision and it’s symbolically important,” Morgan told supervisors during a virtual video presentation. “By the time you take all the overtime and the fireworks contract into account, it’s a fairly expensive undertaking.”
While the exact cost of putting on the fireworks display was not revealed, Morgan projects a $7.1 million revenue hit in the fiscal year 2021 budget because of the loss in tax revenue attributed to the COVID-19 shutdowns.
Being in the Historic Triangle, the loss of tourism is hitting the area extremely hard.
The Williamsburg hotel market has reached record lows for hotel occupancy, the rate per room, and revenues made in the second week of April, according to ODU’s Dragas Center for Economic Analysis and Policy.
“A whole lot of our special events are funded by the tourism fund,” said Morgan. “A lot of that money is just not going to be there. We have to hold down our spending.”
The other reason behind Morgan’s recommendation is rooted in the uncertain nature of future social gatherings.
“It’s kind of hard for me to imagine that we are going to want to encourage 5,000 people to get together down at the Waterfront,” Morgan said.
None of the five supervisors commented specifically on the fireworks proposal following the presentation.
A vote on the fiscal year 2021 budget is scheduled May 5.
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