BY NANCY GAGNET | MIRROR REPORTER — City officials are preparing for huge crowds at this year’s Independence Day fireworks, which is set for Saturday, July 3.
“We’re anticipating the biggest crowd we have ever had,” said Maumee Mayor Richard Carr.
Last year’s event was canceled due to the pandemic, which could make this event something for the books, he added.
“The biggest thing is that people want to get out and back to normal. People want to get out and have fun,” he said.
Things will look different this year as Conant Street shuts down earlier than usual. Maumee City Council approved a proposal on June 7 to close Conant Street at 4:00 p.m. between Dudley and Broadway to accommodate those gathering for the evening. Previously, Conant Street remained open until the Fort Meigs Memorial Bridge closes at 8:00 p.m. This year, the bridge will remain open until 8:00 p.m., and the cars coming over the bridge between 4:00 and 8:00 p.m. will be routed around Conant Street, said city administrator Patrick Burtch.
Shutting down the 200 and 300 blocks of Conant Street earlier also coincides with the weekend kickoff of a new uptown DORA, which officially begins on Thursday, July 1. The DORA, or Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area, allows patrons ages 21 and older to purchase an alcoholic beverage from an approved, liquor-permitted establishment, and then sip and stroll within the DORA boundaries. In Maumee, four establishments are able to participate in the DORA: Dale’s Bar & Grill, Buster Brown’s Big Dog Lounge, the Village Idiot and the Elks.
The DORA boundaries are Conant Street from the Anthony Wayne Trail to Broadway Street and each block to the east and west off Conant Street between Gibbs to Allen streets. The Elks parking lot and the St. Joseph church parking lot are also included.
Under the DORA guidelines, a drink may be purchased at any of the participating establishments for single use only – meaning DORA cups may not be refilled, even at the same establishment where the drink is originally purchased. Recyclable bins will be available for cup disposal. In addition, DORA drinks must be consumed within the DORA boundaries and may only be carried into establishments that allow it, and not into other bars.
Maumee Police Chief Josh Sprow does not anticipate additional problems even with the anticipated crowd and DORA in place.
“There’s definitely going to be a little bit of education for the officers to make sure they are up on the DORA restrictions,” he said. “They will need to totally understand it, since it’s going to be new for everybody, but I don’t anticipate any problems other than what we normally have.”
A total of 25 to 27 officers will be on duty that evening, with approximately 20 assigned to the uptown area. To coincide with the start of the festivities, several officers will begin patrols earlier than usual and will stay on duty longer than in previous years. Calls for service normally increase after the event ends, Sprow added.
City crews will begin power washing Conant Street the morning of July 3, and picnic tables will be set up in the afternoon.
The Maumee Uptown Business Association will host a family picnic from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m. in the area near St. Paul’s Lutheran Church. That event will feature several food trucks, including Deet’s BBQ, The Loaded Chicken, Jeanie’s Comfort Food, Jacky’s Depot, Lyle’s Crepes, K&K Concessions, Snowy Summers Shaved Ice, Gary’s Kettle Corn and PM Frosted Fantasies. In addition, Rita the Balloon Lady and Pattrick the Magician will be on hand. There will also be inflatables and face painting. Live entertainment will be provided by Johnny Rodriguez from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.
City council members also approved the installation of new electrical circuits at a cost of $1,400 at the municipal building to accommodate a portable restroom trailer.
The city of Maumee will join with Perrysburg to split the cost of the fireworks display. A deposit of $15,000 that was submitted last year will be added to this year’s $30,000 display cost, making it even larger than in previous years.
In case of inclement weather, the fireworks will be held on Sunday, July 4.