MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - The organizations overseeing Marquette’s annual Fourth of July celebrations at Mattson Lower Harbor Park have decided to cancel this year’s fireworks and International Food Fest, according to a Thursday morning Facebook post.
Boards of directors for the Marquette County Exchange Club and Marquette Fireworks Committee voted separately this week to cancel their events in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
A call to TV6 & FOX UP confirmed the parade has also been canceled for 2020.
“It became quite clear that the COVID-19 crisis will not subside enough by July to allow for gatherings of the size that the festival and fireworks attract,” Exchange Club President Dave Schneider said. “We felt that we waited as long as possible to make the difficult decision to cancel the annual event, but we believe it was the right decision.”
The festival culminates in the annual fireworks display, which is one of the largest in the Upper Peninsula and draws thousands of spectators to the Lower Harbor area.
“The Fireworks Committee cited the uncertainty of large gatherings, along with fundraising and logistical challenges,” a written statement from the committee states. “The committee is exploring the possibly of a smaller show later in the year.”
Marquette Area Fourth of July Celebration Committee Director, David Tousignant, adds that the cancellation of the International Food Fest also played a role in the cancellation of the fireworks, since the two events are held in conjunction.
""Generally what we do is we piggyback the logistics off of another event, like the Food Fest. It was those added logistics that, first of all, we couldn't afford to take on. I don't think people realize that we're fully self-funded," Tousignant said in an interview to TV6, adding that the fireworks could possibly take place at a date that is yet to be determined.
For the past 34 years the Exchange Club has sponsored the three-day food fest, which serves as its major fundraiser. Over that span, more than $950,000 have been raised for donations to more than 30 local organizations. This year, the club was hoping to break the million dollar mark for donations made over the years.
“While it’s disappointing that the food fest and fireworks won’t be enjoyed by the thousands of residents and visitors to the area over this July Fourth holiday, the real disappointment for our organization is the lack of funds raised to distribute to the community,” Schneider said. “We’re hoping that those who have supported our efforts by attending the festival will shift that support directly to the many local organizations that normally receive grants from us.”
Organizations that have received annual grants from the Exchange Club in the past include: Upper Peninsula Honor Flight, Jacobetti Home for Veterans, St. Vincent dePaul Food Pantry, Salvation Army Food Pantry, Marquette Area Public Schools JJ Packs Food Program, Alzheimer’s Association, Trillium House, Harbor House Domestic Violence Shelter, Marquette Children’s Museum, Peter White Public Library, Catholic Campus Ministry, Lutheran Social Services, Retired Seniors Volunteer Program, Child and Family Services of the Upper Peninsula, Superior Alliance for Independent Living, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Little League Baseball, Superior Soccer Association, Marquette Junior Hockey, Marquette Mountain Ski Team, Ishpeming High School football team, American Legion baseball teams, Marine Corps League’s Toys for Tots Program, Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Marquette and Alger Counties, American Association of University Women’s Girls Math and Science Program, MSHS Team Cold Logic robotics team, Westend Gearbusters robotics team, MSHS We the People Program, YMCA swim team, Marquette County Search and Rescue and Upper Peninsula Community Rowing Club.