Last week, many New Bedford residents made it clear they were not happy with a decision by local elected and appointed officials to restrict the hours of the Whaling City Festival. Their voices were heard loud and clear, and the policymakers retreated. You can fight city hall, and you can win if you are willing to raise a little hell in the process.

The notion that the festival could be held safely at Buttonwood Park between the hours of 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. but that somehow at 6:01, the threat to the public's health was too great to risk it was absurd and everyone knew it. No one was buying it. It was crystal clear that the decision to place a curfew on the festival was motivated by politics and not concern over COVID-19. The people rebelled.

And then to learn that the Fourth of July fireworks would go forward without so much as a whimper from the same public officials who so fretted the evening festival hours – well, that was the final straw of disbelief.

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I don't know who gave the order to place a curfew on the festival. It certainly appears to have been the Board of Health. It's still unclear who ultimately decided to lift the curfew. I suppose at this point it doesn't really matter. New Bedford-area families will get to enjoy the Whaling City Festival and the Fourth of July fireworks.

What matters is that enough folks were not happy with the decisions made on their behalf and spoke out in a forceful enough way to convince the policymakers to reverse course. Local radio talk shows such as those provided here by WBSM are the perfect place to air those views and have officials take notice. Now that is how a democratic republic is supposed to work.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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