STATEMENT REGARDING CANCELLATION OF 2018 MEDFORD FIREWORKS
We are the trustees of the Medford Celebrates Foundation, Inc., (MCF) a non-profit corporation composed of unpaid volunteers who, since 2012, have raised the money and done the work needed to stage the annual Medford Independence Day Celebration and Fireworks event. We are issuing this statement to explain the decisions and set the record straight concerning the circumstances that led to the cancellation of this year's event, particularly in light of several uninformed and inaccurate social media posts.
First, and perhaps foremost, no tax monies have been expended to stage the event since 2012. The fireworks events, including this year's cancelled event, cost the Township nothing. All expenses, including the costs of Township personnel overtime, are paid by MCF, thanks to the generosity of our sponsors and donors.
The decision to cancel the fireworks was made jointly by the leadership of MCF and Medford Township Public Safety personnel following a sudden and extremely heavy thunderstorm with dangerous lightening and strong wind gusts. As is routine, public safety personnel monitored the weather forecast throughout the day before and on the morning of July 3, the planned day for the fireworks. A 'go or no go decision' must be made shortly after noon. At that time, we were advised that there was an approximate 15% chance of rain and a greater chance of rain on Thursday, July 5, the rain date. There was no prediction that any storms that might occur would be severe or dump 2 inches or more of rain on Medford. We therefore decide to proceed with the event.
The first indication that there may be storms in the general area came at approximately 3:45 PM, after preparations were well underway at Freedom Park, including MCF volunteers setting up tables, chairs and signs in the near 100 degree heat, vendors setting up and the sound company deploying sound equipment for the band. By then, the fireworks company had set up the fireworks in the Park.
Severe thunderstorms with dangerous lightning and wind hit at approximately 6 PM, dropping approximately 2.5 inches of rain on the Park in less than one hour. Although the storm slowed considerably by about 7:30 PM, MCF leadership and Township public safety officials were advised that a chance of additional severe storms with dangerous lightening remained. We were also advised by the fireworks company that its set up area was underwater in spots, that many of the fireworks had been damaged, and that they could not be salvaged or saved for the July 5 rain date and had to be detonated in place on July 3. We were further advised that detonation presented some risks to anyone in the area because the flight paths of the fireworks would be somewhat unpredictable.
The information from the fireworks company, the weather forecasts and the safety concerns led to the decision to cancel the fireworks and vacate Freedom Park while the fireworks were detonated. That was the prudent thing to do, rather than risk injury or worse to anyone who would otherwise be in the Park. Among other things, we were concerned about misleading people into believing that it was definitely safe to stay, when in fact there was a risk.
After working for a year to stage the event, the MCF volunteers are as disappointed as anyone about the cancellation of this year's fireworks. We also understand that the upwards of 30,000 people who have in the past included Medford's fireworks in their holiday plans were disappointed too. We sincerely appreciate the many supportive posts on social media that followed the cancellation. We know that ours is not the most important non-profit in the world, but we are happy to see that so many area residents regard the Medford Independence Day Celebration to be significant and appreciate the work that we do to stage it.
But, mostly, we appreciate the contributions of our sponsors and donors. There are many including ShopRite of Medford, our Presenting Sponsor, who contributes a significant portion of the donations we receive, as well as Columbia Bank, our Stage Sponsor, and Polymer Solutions, our Vendors Concourse Sponsor, both of whom also make substantial contributions. Other corporate sponsors include: PJ Whelihan's, Bob Meyer Communities, Century 21 Alliance Realty, Medford Ford, Radwell International, Medford Fitness, the Law firm of Archer Greiner , Padden Cooper LLC Accounting, YMCA Camp Ockanickon, the Y.A.L.E School, as well as several of local print media.
Without these contributions, and those of residents through our website and on-site donations, there would be no fireworks in Medford.
We have already begun to plan the 2019 fireworks, and expect to come back better than ever, as we think we have improved every year since our inception. Our aim is to present an enjoyable Independence Day celebration each year, hopefully without interruption as unfortunately happened this year with the bad weather.
With this year's weather event having had such an impact, we hope the community has learned of our efforts, and feels a sense of volunteerism and offers to assist in our goal of presenting Medford's annual Independence Day celebration. Anyone who is interested can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org or through the contact page on our website.