Freedom—June 4, 2020—The lake’s two popular 4th of July fireworks displays have been canceled for this year, the latest fallout from the coronavirus pandemic that continues to spread in the state.
Ossipee Select Board Chair Martha Eldridge made the announcement this week, according to reporting by the Conway Daily Sun.
Ossipee’s fireworks are held annually at Constitution Park and are viewed by hundreds of boaters and homeowners around the lake. Concerns about crowds and sanitation during the pandemic doomed the display for this year.
“We thought for public health and safety, it was a smart move to cancel,” Eldridge said, according to the Sun.
The annual Broad Bay fireworks show put on by Camp Huckins has also been canceled as a result of the pandemic.
Two weeks ago, Huckins canceled its 2020 camping season, citing the uncertainties caused by the spread of the COVID-19 virus, and the lack of state guidelines for operating safely while the virus is still spreading.
“With our camp programs canceled, we had to reduce our expenses as much as we could,” Heather Kiley, the camp’s executive director, told Ossipee Lake Alliance by email.
“We hope to be back up and celebrating in 2021,” she added.
None of which means there won’t be fireworks on the lake to celebrate the 4th.
Non-commercial fireworks are legal in New Hampshire as long as they are “permissible” devices. In essence, a permissible device is one you have purchased from a state-licensed retail fireworks store, according to a brochure published by the State Fire Marshal’s office. Permissible devices include Roman Candles, Aerial Spinners and Bottle Rockets. If it’s not on the list, or if it has not been purchased at a state-licensed store, it’s illegal.
Towns can make their own rules, however. After several years of complaints about noise and fire danger, Freedom adopted a fireworks ordinance in 2010. The ordinance prohibits all fireworks use except for licensed commercial displays, and non-commercial displays on the 4th of July, the four days preceding and following that holiday, and New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.
The ordinance also amusingly permits fireworks for “24 hours following the final out when the Red Sox win the world series.”
Ossipee does not have a fireworks ordinance, and the town’s rule of thumb is that if a consumer fireworks device has been purchased in a New Hampshire-licensed retail store, there are no town restrictions on its use.
Per state law, however, users must be 21 years or older, and the use must be on property the user owns or has permission to use.
“Obviously common sense and safety should be top of mind with anyone using fireworks,” Ossipee Town Administrator Matt Sawyer, Jr. told Ossipee Lake Alliance in a call.
Sawyer also said fireworks users should consider giving their fire precinct a heads-up if they’re planning a large display, although there is no town requirement to do so.