JOSEPH — On, then off, then on again — it now looks like the annual Fourth of July fireworks show over Wallowa Lake has fizzled out, largely due to concerns over the spread of COVID-19.
“The Wallowa Lake Tourism Association is no longer pursuing production of the Fourth of July celebration with the fireworks,” said Mike Lockhart, association president.
Lockhart and the association had taken up the banner for the Independence Day show after the Wallowa County Chamber of Commerce and the Wallowa County Commission had declined to help fund it this year because of the pandemic. Last week, Lockhart said he was nearing an agreement to put on the show.
However, as Lockhart told the commissioners Wednesday, June 17, plans for the fireworks are on hold after the recent spike in coronavirus cases in neighboring Union County.
On Monday, June 22, Lockhart said the association is abandoning efforts to put on the annual show given the nearby surge in coronavirus. Over the weekend, the number of cases in Wallowa County rose to eight.
All along, Lockhart has said the show would go on only if it could be done safely.
“We sat back and took an assessment based on these things,” he said. “The risk that something could go wrong were well above the benefits.”
He said he and other association members “didn’t want to take this on and ignore the things going on around us.”
The association was by no means taking the pandemic situation lightly, he said.
“It was really thought through. We even thought we might be in Phase 3 by now, but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen,” Lockhart said. “I really feel badly about it because we really promoted it. A majority of people would’ve liked to have seen it.”