May decision stands – no fireworks in St Augustine

After listening to city manager John Regan, who was called out for misrepresenting the status of fireworks displays in nearby locations, Historic City News associate editor Don Louis heard public and commissioner comments — but no motion was made to rescind or alter the May decision to cancel July 4th fireworks in the City of St Augustine.

Fireworks Over the Matanzas, as it is known, has proven to be the best attended one-day annual event in the City and consistently adds to the profits of local merchants, restaurants, hotels, and bars.  During the May 11th City Commission meeting, Regan incorrectly stated that both the City of Jacksonville Beach and the City of Daytona Beach had cancelled their fireworks celebration. 

“I stated that those cities had cancelled their displays when, in fact, their final decisions are still pending.  Flagler Beach has cancelled their fireworks and parade,” Regan wrote in a response the day after the public meeting.  “The status of neighboring communities factored heavily in the decision to cancel our fireworks celebration.”

The inference drawn from Regan’s incorrect report was that the City would suffer, not only our own regular wall-to-wall attendance if the July 4th celebration were held, but also, the additional crowds from other nearby communities.  Confronted with the truth the following morning, business owners and residents were on the telephone to their commissioners and the city manager’s office.

Regan outlined what he was attempting to do last month.  He stated in a public apology that the basis of a decision for an event of this scale should include consideration of the status of the COVID-19 phased re-opening plan by Governor DeSantis, impacts of neighboring community decisions, and crossing beyond a date that results in unnecessary expenditures.

“It is my responsibility to ensure that the information I provide is accurate and I sincerely apologize to the City Commission and our community for working with erroneous information,” Regan wrote.