Wildwood postpones fireworks, asks everyone to mask up outside
Wildwood Mayor Pete Byron has a lot on his mind during the height of the city's summer season. Fireworks, face coverings and the financial state of restaurants.
Bryon shares Gov. Phil Murphy's concern about the lack of face coverings he has observed on the beach and boardwalk.
"Out there right now, I'd say it's 70-30 — 70 (percent) do not wear a mask and 30 do." .
He joined Cape May County's mayors, the freeholders and the Cape May County Chamber of Commerce in an open letter urging visitors to wear a mask in public.
“For the health of all and as an investment in the economic health of our community, we deeply appreciate and now depend upon the cooperation of business owners, staff members, and the public in this needed next step,” their statement said.
Byron this week cut the ribbon on the flood-mitigating, $12 million Beach Ball Boulevard bridge, street widening and electronic billboard. The opening comes as Wildwood gets to what Byron calls the true start of summer for the city that will have to do without its usual fireworks display or the availability of indoor dining.
Murphy changed his mind about indoor dining resuming July 2 over concerns about large crowds at Jersey Shore spots and states where cases of coronavirus are spiking. t's a message that Byron took to heart in his decision to postpone the city's fireworks display.
"I didn't think that us promoting an event that's going to draw thousands of people was probably the right move to make and us potentially to get a black eye in front of the governor," Bryon said.
The mayor said tourists and businesses are disappointed at Byron's decision but understand his reasons.
"People are disappointed. It was one of those difficult decisions to make but on the flipside it wasn't such a tough decision," Bryon said. "Not so difficult because we just didn't feel in lieu of the direction we're in right now in this state."
The fireworks had been moved away from the center of Wildwood to a dead end on the boardwalk to give the crowd more room to stretch out. The display may take place later in the summer, according to Byron.
There was also concern that the canceled fireworks in surrounding towns would bring even larger crowds to Wildwood.
While trying to apease the governor regarding large gatherings, Bryon doesn't think it was right to reverse course 72 hours before indoor dining would be allowed given the expense of food preparation, facility modifications and rehiring of staff. Murphy has not provided a new start date.
"Health and safety should be a priority but I think that at this point we also need to look at the economic health and safety as well," Byron said. "The stress this is bringing onto these business people I guarantee it's going to have an effect on their health as well."
"Let's just get this stuff open. The calendar is blowing by us," Byron said.