No July 4th Fireworks, But Plenty of Summer Excitement (and More In-Person Normal) for Wilton Residents

Wilton's Fourth of July festivities in pre-COVID times

Amid the flurry of reopening news and with the unofficial start of summer just around the corner, GOOD Morning Wilton reached out to several town officials for the latest updates on possible upcoming town events and access to town facilities.

No July 4th Fireworks

First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice confirmed that the town will not be holding its annual Fourth of July fireworks events.

While July 4 may seem far enough in the future to be a safe bet for large gatherings, the planning required for the large-scale fireworks event, which normally attracts thousands of spectators, would have had to have been finalized months ago. At the time, Vanderslice pointed out, there was much more uncertainty about the pandemic and limits on gathering than there is today.

But with mask guidelines updated on May 19 and CT DPH further refining its guidance to businesses and event organizers just yesterday, Vanderslice emphasizes things still remain very much in flux.

The latest DPH statement refers to the “continuing risk” that COVID is playing for large events: “There are still many vulnerable residents and communities in the state who are not fully vaccinated and could be severely impacted by COVID-19. There is a continuing risk that businesses and large events could be a source of significant COVID-19 outbreaks in situations where universal masking is not in use, many people remain unvaccinated, and appropriate spacing between customers, attendees, and staff cannot be maintained.”

As GMW previously reported, Wilton’s Memorial Day Parade organizers had to make a similarly difficult decision not to hold a 2021 parade.

While canceling these events is a big disappointment, the town has not given up when it comes to community summer celebrations. Vanderslice indicated the town is eying a late summer or Labor Day timeframe for possibly organizing a larger community event.

In the meantime, Parks and Recreation Department Director Steve Pierce says efforts are underway right now to plan some smaller events around July 4 that may not rise to the level of the fireworks, but will be fun for the community nonetheless.

The annual July 4th 5k is also a possibility, but Pierce says it isn’t confirmed yet.

Memorial Day

Parks & Rec has organized an event at Merwin Meadows that will include live music with The Underdogs band, a pizza truck and ice cream. Pierce said he expects to announce more details next week.

While this event will be open to the public, Pierce encouraged residents to get Merwin Meadows summer passes, which are currently available for purchase through the department’s e-Trak online system.

And don’t forget the Get Smart for Wilton 5K. This popular event to benefit the Wilton Educational Foundation will be held Sunday, May 30, with a 5k run through the Wilton High School complex and Allen’s Meadow, with an option to participate on your own “virtual” course. Visit the signup page or the WEF website for more information.

Comstock Community Center

Pierce asked for the public’s patience as his department work is working diligently to resume all usual activities. “Things like mask-wearing and other restrictions can change in a nano-second, but when you have a lot of moving parts it makes it more challenging,” he said.

Pierce was proud of the fact that Parks & Rec programming has, in fact, been running for months. Comstock summer programs, which also ran successfully last summer, are now open for registration.

He also noted that Comstock Community Center is open and available to the community for meeting space. Wilton’s Social Services Department, which also operates out the Comstock facility, has not yet announced any changes to public access of the department.

Donations of non-perishable items for the Wilton Food Pantry may still be made in the shed outside Comstsock’s lower entrance behind the building.

Summer Concerts

In the past, Wilton has offered a summer concert series, typically with two concerts at Schenck’s Island and two at Merwin Meadows.

Vanderslice said she expects the concerts will resume this summer, with details to be announced soon.

Department and Commission Meetings

During COVID, all town departments, boards and commissions have held their meetings on Zoom. The public has been able to “attend” and observe all of those meetings, as required by law.

As COVID restrictions are eliminated, will those meetings revert to an in-person format?

Vanderslice says not at the present time. On Thursday, Gov. Ned Lamont issued a revised executive order extending remote and hybrid meetings until June 30.

She said the state legislature is also expected to address the topic in the current session, which could possibly make remote or hybrid options more permanent.

Vanderslice has the sense that most people would like to see the Zoom format continue. “The guidance we gave the appointed board and commission members is to continue to conduct meetings over Zoom, so the public can continue to be on Zoom and watch the meetings. We also made the recommendation to the elected boards,” she said.

That could change after June 30, but for now, Zoom meetings will continue.

Town Hall

In a May 18 email update to the town, Vanderslice informed residents that access to Town Hall and the Town Annex will begin on June 1, adding to the possible ways in which residents may obtain services, which now include:

  • Walk-in
  • In-person appointment
  • Online
  • Email
  • Dropbox

The town is currently making some necessary security upgrades to the buildings so they’ll remain inaccessible to the public until June 1.