Howard County Executive Calvin Ball announced Thursday morning that the Fourth of July fireworks celebration at the Columbia lakefront will return this summer after being canceled last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
During a news conference at Lake Kittamaqundi in Columbia, Ball announced the return of the annual celebration that generally draws between 20,000 and 30,000 people to watch the fireworks.
“I’m proud to announce that thanks to all of our collective efforts we will be able to enjoy Fourth of July fireworks right here in Howard County and be able to celebrate here at the lakefront in Columbia,” Ball said.
While the fireworks are returning, the rest of the typical events like live music, food trucks and other entertainment won’t be. Raul Delerme, the county’s Department of Recreation and Parks director, said the Independence Day celebration will be a “scaled-back version.”
The 22-minute fireworks show will start around 9 p.m., weather pending, Delerme said. The department is asking fireworks attendees to wait until after 3 p.m. to lay down blankets.
Last year, the county decided to cancel the annual fireworks due to fears of having large gatherings during the pandemic.
Now, though, Ball said the county’s high vaccination rate and improving coronavirus metrics have allowed the county to follow Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s ending of restrictions and mask mandates and to host an event like the fireworks show.
On Wednesday, Howard County became the first jurisdiction in Maryland to have 50% of its residents — adults and children — fully vaccinated against COVID-19. As of Thursday, according to Howard County Health Officer Dr. Maura Rossman, 73% of county residents 12 and older — the group of people who are eligible for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine — have received at least one dose.
Howard’s coronavirus numbers are the best in the state, Rossman said, with a weekly positivity rate of 1.01% and a seven-day rolling average new-case rate of 2.81 per 100,000. The positivity rate is the lowest for Howard throughout the pandemic, while the case rate is the lowest since June 20, 2020, according to the Maryland Department of Health. The case rate number means that only 62 Howard residents have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past week.
Also during the news conference, Delerme announced the rec and parks department has lifted all capacity restrictions on parks, centers and programs, including outdoor and indoor sports facilities, weddings, pavilion rentals and summer camps.