TEGA CAY, S.C. — Days after the saying they would not cancel their annual Fourth of July Parade despite the police department asking them to, Tega Cay officials announced Wednesday that they will forgo this year’s parade.
The town will still hold the annual Fourth of July fireworks show at 9:30 p.m., with an updated safety and control plan expected to be released on Thursday.
The Tega Cay Police Department wrote the City Council a letter earlier in June asking them to cancel the holiday event.
In the letter, TCPD cited concerns over more people coming to the show than usual since the surrounding areas have already canceled their shows.
“Our police officers must deal with people who might not all take the same precautions or care regarding COVID-19, and our officers would be coming into close contact with these large crowds,” the police chief said in the letter.
The chief also said the police department doesn’t have the manpower to handle traffic, let alone any issues that could come up.
The Fourth of July is not just Independence Day in Tega Cay, it is also the city’s birthday.
“Fourth of July in Tega Cay has always been a big deal,” Mayor Pro Tem Gus Matchunis said. “It is a community unifying event. We celebrate our birthday. We celebrate the birthday of our country and it is important to us all.”
Matchunis said earlier in the week that he was fine with keeping the tradition.
“We weighed his concerns and went back and asked if he could come up with a plan,” Matchunis said. “If we wanted to proceed and with cooperation with other local law enforcement agencies, has come up with a plan that we are comfortable with.”
The town released the following statement on Wednesday:
Since March, city staff leadership has continuously coordinated safety efforts with the York County Office of Emergency Management and received information from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC). They have kept City Council informed of all pertinent information from these resources on an almost daily basis. This includes information that is relevant to our normal July 4th celebrations.
“Based on this most recent information received from the state and SCDHEC, City Council and I have made the decision to forgo this year’s July 4th Parade”, said Mayor David O’Neal. “While we are disappointed to not be able to hold it this year, we feel it’s in the best interest of our residents.”
The Firework Celebration will still be held on Saturday, July 4th at 9:30 p.m.
In previous years, most people have watched the fireworks at the Tega Cay Golf and Conference Center. The parking lot will be available to everyone on a first-come, first-serve basis. Once that’s filled up, the only people allowed in the area will be people with IDs, who live on the peninsula. Everyone else will be routed to a nearby park and elementary school.
After those lots are filled up, anyone who doesn't live on the peninsula will have to wait until the show is over.
Not all leaders are on board with holding the event as COVID-19 cases rapidly rise in South Carolina.
“I’m not comfortable at all, honestly,” Councilwoman Heather Overman said. “I have serious concerns, public safety and public health concerns.”
Tega Cay has a disclaimer on its website warning the public that they are assuming any and all risk related to COVID-19 by choosing to attend.
Overman is asking attendees to wear a mask, social distance and take the coronavirus seriously.
“We know how this virus spreads,” Overman said. “We know how community spread is. The more people you invite into a smaller area, the chance for that to happen gets compounded. We need to make sure people are doing what they can to keep their communities safe at this point.”
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