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Leesburg’s July 4th fireworks canceled two days after winning city’s approval

Leesburg Partnership CEO Joe Shipes addressed the City Commission on Monday, winning approval for a July 4th event. He canceled the event two days later due to rising concerns about about COVID-19. Image: Lake Front TV

Leesburg’s Fourth of July fireworks have been canceled due to rising concerns over COVID-19.

Organizers pulled the plug Wednesday afternoon, two days after the City Commission approved the event.

City leaders and Leesburg Partnership CEO Joe Shipes had just had a telephone conference with the interim chief medical officer at UF Health Leesburg Hospital.

City Manager Al Minner said the doctor’s information was “staggering.”

Shipes said he realized that — even with precautions — it wouldn’t be safe to crowd more than 20,000 people along the shore of Lake Griffin.

“With this sudden uptick in infections,” Shipes said, “we just didn’t feel we could provide a safe environment for families.”

He says the decision has drawn an angry response on Facebook.

But what if someone, he says, were to contract the virus there and die? He doesn’t want that.

To be honest with you, after this and what we had to go through, I don’t think you’re going to see any events until 2021, late 2021. I just don’t see any, I just don’t see any, us doing anything,” Shipes said.

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Joe Byrnes

About Joe Byrnes


Joe Byrnes came to WMFE/WMFV from the Ocala Star-Banner and The Gainesville Sun, where he worked as a reporter and editor for several years. Joe graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans and turned to journalism after teaching. He enjoys freshwater fishing and family gatherings.