COVINGTON, Ga. — The Covington City Council has agreed to make a decision regarding the city’s annual Stars and Stripes Fest by May 18.
The fireworks display Covington holds on the Square each July is widely renowned as one of the top Independence Day events in Georgia. However, while the state continues to slowly reopen in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, this year’s Stars and Stripes Fest is in jeopardy of being postponed or canceled.
Covington City Manager Scott Andrews addressed the issue during a City Council meeting on Monday, April 20.
Just hours before the meeting took place, Gov. Brian Kemp announced the state would begin scaling back its coronavirus orders prior to the expiration of the statewide shelter-in-place order on April 30. Consequently, Andrews believed citizens would like to see similar progress made at the local level.
“This is a huge event for us,” Andrews said of the fireworks display, “and I think as we’ve started to see some light here based off the governor’s conversation earlier, we want to give people something to be excited for. But we want to take social distancing and safety into account.”
Council member Anthony Henderson asked what the deadline would be for the council to come to a decision. Andrews said the city could wait “a couple council meetings” before putting it to a vote.
In response, Henderson expressed his desire to hold off on deciding whether or not to host the event on July 4.
“I think we should be patient and see how events play out as far as the governor’s restrictions,” he said.
Henderson added that he believed making a decision in mid-May or late May would be more efficient. Fellow council member Fleeta Baggett publicly agreed with him, and the rest of the council followed in voicing their agreement.
Mayor Steven Horton stated that Covington can push the event back without facing a penalty. However, he urged the council members to decide one way or another in a timely fashion.
“I will say for the record that we do have a letter in hand right now from the fireworks company that says we can reschedule to another date between now and the end of the year with no penalty,” Horton said. “I think the further out you get, the harder it may be to get a date.”
The council then unanimously approved a motion to table the decision until their meeting on May 18.