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Culture & Artsby Ed Gunts12:04 pmMay 11, 20210

July 4th fireworks at the Inner Harbor cancelled for 2021

Decision follows the scrubbing of Artscape this July. Baltimore’s promotion director blames concerns about the spread of Covid at large public gatherings for the cancellations.

Above: Fireworks at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor were an Independence Day tradition before Covid. (VisitMaryland.org)

For the second straight year, Baltimore will not have Inner Harbor fireworks on the Fourth of July.

Donna Drew Sawyer, CEO of the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts (BOPA), broke the news to members of the Downtown Partnership this morning.

“We have been in close communication with the city and unfortunately there will not be July Fourth fireworks,” she said in response to a question about the annual event.

The announcement comes less than a week after Sawyer disclosed that her agency will not produce Artscape this summer because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The midtown art and music festival, which typically attracts more than 250,000 people, was not held in 2020 due to the pandemic.

BOPA is hoping to have Inner Harbor fireworks on New Year’s Eve, another annual tradition.

“The last thing we wanted to be was a superspreader,” Sawyer said today. “We consulted with the mayor’s office. We consulted with the health commissioner, and the bottom line was, we can’t do it safely.”

Sawyer did not give a specific reason for cancelling the Inner Harbor fireworks, but alluded to the pandemic in her comments: “The city has decided not to risk us all by having fireworks July Fourth.”

Free Fall Baltimore

BOPA does plan to have its Free Fall Baltimore events in person during October, which Sawyer described as “a month-long celebration of the arts” with activities around the city.

The agency couldn’t shift Artscape to later in 2021, Sawyer said, largely because the staff will be working on Free Fall events.

“One would have overrun the other. . . My staff is amazing, but the thing they can’t do is clone themselves. We could not get two major events going at exactly the same time.”

Sawyer said Artscape takes a long time to plan.

“Once you put Artscape in motion, it is tough to rejigger it so that it fits someplace else. We thought it best to go forward with Free Fall.”

BOPA, however, is “hoping” to have Inner Harbor fireworks on New Year’s Eve, another annual tradition.

At this point, Sawyer said, “we are planning for New Year’s,” adding, “We’ll figure out a way to bring that excitement back.”

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