When the coronavirus was still in its infancy here, a lot of things were canceled out of fear of spreading the thing. Among them, the annual Independence Day fireworks displays that are held from coast to coast.

Perhaps we acted too quickly in canceling the New Bedford fireworks. Scratching the Feast of the Blessed Sacrament and some of the smaller annual festivals and fairs makes sense as large gatherings should be discouraged for now. The fireworks display could have been different, though, as there are more opportunities to spread people over a greater distance, therefore practicing reasonable social distancing.

In recent years, the New Bedford fireworks have been set off in the inner harbor to draw people into the downtown area and to the waterfront. That would certainly force a lot of people into a small area, which could create potential health issues.

The fireworks could be launched from a barge off of East Beach instead, increasing the viewing area dramatically. Crowds could spread from downtown to the tip of the peninsula, providing for a much safer viewing experience.

The American people have been through an awful lot this year and depriving them of an opportunity to celebrate the Fourth of July with the annual fireworks display only adds to the burden for many.

The Fourth of July fireworks would have been a great treat for a lot of pandemic-weary residents to enjoy the long weekend and the start of a summer season that will be devoid of all of the usual celebrations.

The fireworks should not have been canceled.

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 barry@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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