Municipal boards in Kennebunk and Kennebunkport are discussing whether to hold a July 4 fireworks display or hold off and have a celebration in the fall. Portland Press Herald file photo

Municipal boards in Kennebunk and Kennebunkport are deciding whether to host the usual joint fireworks display on July 4 or look to the fall for a celebration.

With a high tide of 8.8 feet at about 8:25 p.m. on July 4, the sandy area at Kennebunk Beach would be unavailable, eliminating space where celebrants typically gather for Independence Day fireworks, Kennebunk Town Manager Mike Pardue told the select board at a recent meeting.

In Kennebunkport, Colony Beach, a spot normally used for fireworks viewing, will be closed, as it will be the staging area for the U.S, Army Corps of Engineers as it carries out work on the jetty.

The two communities have partnered for annual July 4 fireworks displays for years, and while pandemic gathering guidelines could change between now and then, the towns will have to decide soon whether to book the fireworks provider or look ahead to another date.

In Kennebunk, Pardue told the select board that given the high tide, gathering limits that are currently in effect could not be attained.

Pardue said other towns are in pause on the question. He said Ogunquit is considering whether to host fireworks, Old Orchard Beach is a go, but Cape Elizabeth has said no to July 4 fireworks.

He said he would recommend reviewing the vaccination situation and the governor’s orders and pause for the moment.

“(We) could look into a September or October time frame if we wanted to do a celebration of an almost return to normalcy,” said Pardue. “The provider does need information as soon as possible, but recognizes communities are waiting to evaluate.”

Pardue said it was his understanding that Gov. Janet Mills was looking at May 24 as a pivot point.

Kennebunk Select Board member Shiloh Schulte said one of his neighbors suggested a fireworks display on Labor Day.

Pardue pointed out Kennebunk will celebrate its 201st birthday this year, and Kennebunkport will mark 200 years.

Kennebunkport Town Manager Laurie Smith said her survey of towns shows they’re discussing the issue in April, and a few have said they’ll hold celebrations later in the year.

“All of this hinges on Kennebunk because they pay half,” said selectmen board chair Allen Daggett.

Selectman Sheila Matthews-Bull said the fireworks should go ahead. She pointed out that COVID-19 vaccinations will soon be more widely available – on April 19, vaccinations will open to those 16 and older – and that will be two months before July 4.

“What about all of the people from out of state,” asked selectman Ed Hutchins.

Matthews-Bull said most people traveling will have had the vaccine and those who don’t, shouldn’t attend a fireworks display.

“My attitude is that we take care of Kennebunkport and Kennebunk and the surrounding towns. If tourists want to come, that’s their option,” said Matthews-Bull. “I think it’s an optimistic attitude and good for the town and businesses and for people all around.”

“I’d rather wait,” said Hutchins. Selectman Mike Weston agreed.

There was no July 4 fireworks display in 2020.

A decision is expected to be made in April.

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