ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) -- The 4th of July Committee has canceled the annual fireworks show for 2020. Prior to this announcement, a scaled back fireworks show was in the works and funds were being raised to do so.
In an announcement Saturday morning, officials say that City Hall denied the committee a license. Officials say their feelings on the decision can’t change it, even though it “breaks their heart.”
The committee issued the following statement to 23 News shortly after the announcement was made. You can read it below along with an official statement from the City of Rockford at the bottom of the page.
2020 4th of July
In 1963, Joe Marino was tasked with the job of putting together a 4th of July celebration for the city of Rockford. He raised $3,000 that year to put on a fireworks show in downtown Rockford and for the next 55 years, he would continue to do just that, raise money through donations and sponsorships to fund a celebration this country is worthy of. In November of 2018, that torch was passed to Ted and me. Before he passed away, Gruncle told us over breakfast that he was adamant about the leadership of this committee staying in the family. We have taken that torch with honor and continue to work as hard as we, as a committee, can.
That brings us to 2020. This community, this state, this nation and the world has been confronted with something that has caused fear, doubt, concerns and apprehensions in the form of Covid-19. As a committee, we struggled with the decision to even pursue a celebration this year with all of the uncertainty this pandemic has brought on. As a courtesy, we consulted with the Mayor’s office as to what the city thought of what we were trying to accomplish. Initially, we were planning the biggest celebration that the Rockford Community has seen in the last 57 years. With the introduction of the pandemic, we scaled back the celebration to eventually just include a shortened firework show. We felt that the community would need a sense of normality in extremely abnormal times and we could offer that in a fireworks show that not only celebrated our country, but held the tradition this community has come to know and love over the last 57 years. Unfortunately, through city hall, we are not being given the opportunity to do so this year. Although we have made adaptations and exceptions with what we wanted to do this year, we are being denied the opportunity to do so by not receiving a permit to operate from the city of Rockford. Through hard work and dedication we have raised the funds necessary, in an extremely short amount of time, to provide a 20 min firework show for the citizens of this community to enjoy and it absolutely breaks our hearts to not be able to do so.
It is with these extremely heavy hearts that we say that we must cancel this years 4th of July celebration. Know this one thing, this all volunteer committee is made up individuals from every walk of life and it is dedicated to serving this community as a whole. And to our donors, sponsors and citizens of this community, we will be back in 2021 with what we were planning for this year, the biggest 4th of July celebration this community has ever seen. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you for your support of your celebration.
Ted and Tom
Rockford 4th of July Committee