LONGVIEW, Texas (KLTV) - The City of Longview’s Fireworks and Freedom Celebration is back on after an anonymous donation of $50,000, according to Mayor Andy Mack.
The city made the announcement Friday, a day after announcing the cancellation of this year’s event. The City cited financial and safety concerns as reasons to scrap the celebration.
Though the fireworks portion will go on, Mack said the event has been modified to a drive-in only fireworks show to ensure social distancing and that the festival portion of it will not happen this year. That means no Live Main Stage, vendors and carnival rides.
“You can sit in your car, sit outside your car, but there will be spacing where we won’t have the normal free run of of activities,” Mack said. “We don’t know where we’ll be in July. We don’t know if we’ll have hit our peak or not hit our peak. We don’t where that virus is going to continue to spread or not spread."
Financially, Mack said the City had canceled the event because it was best to use that money to maintain city services, including police and fire and keeping city employees on the payroll.
“Those things were more important than a 30-minute fireworks celebration as far as our budget goes,” he said. “The economy is bad right now. We’ve lost sales tax revenue. Our budget is going to be struggling, and it’s hard to justify spending that kind of money on entertainment. Even though it’s benefiting the community, it’s still money that comes out of our budget."
The City will not lose any of the money that has gone toward deposits for this year’s celebration. Instead, Mack said that money will be used for next year’s event.
“The fireworks show will be fantastic. Sit in your car and enjoy it. Be thankful that we’re able to do this — to celebrate the freedoms of our country,” he said.
The show will be free and open to the public.
“Thanks to our wonderful, generous donor,” Mack said. “When someone steps up and does that out of the goodness of their heart with no ulterior motive just because ‘I want to do something nice’ and they have the ability to do something nice, they’re blessing others with the riches they’ve been blessed with and I just think that’s what you’re supposed to do, so hats off."