Ocean Springs Fourth of July block party canceled; business reaction mixed

Ocean Springs Fourth of July block party canceled; business reaction mixed

OCEAN SPRINGS, Miss. (WLOX) - In a big reversal, Mayor Shea Dobson announced Sunday he has canceled his planned Independence Day Block Party Downtown over COVID-19 concerns.

Independence Day celebration canceled.

Posted by Mayor Shea Dobson on Sunday, June 28, 2020

Not all retail establishments are all that shaken up over the decision.

“It’s OK. We feel whatever is safe for our community and what the mayor thinks is what we think is best,” said Jerika Vincent of Rooftop Taco & Tequila Bar.

Block party or not, Vincent is ready with the right deals and the right look for the Fourth of July. Her business has a new drink and her employees have new costumes.

“I do think that we would have got a lot more business based on the block party and people being able to mingle, walk around on the streets,” she said. “But, regardless, we’re in downtown Ocean Springs, and I feel we’re going to be pretty busy already.”

Dobson, who faced a lot of pushback for planning the event, had hoped to generate more business still hurting from the shutdown.

He made the announcement Sunday morning on social media.

“Frankly, I didn’t want to cancel the event,” he said. “However, I’m not the only one whose opinion matters. I’m not the only one whose perspective matters, and it’s important to do what everybody around me is suggesting. So, that’s what we’re going to do. I’m very disappointed, but this is a decision that we think is just best.”

Dobson added that for now, the fireworks display is still scheduled for July 3, and he would be consulting with his staff Monday to see if any other changes need to be made.

Kris Kwitzky, owner of Kwitzky’s Dugout, wasn’t sure if something like the block party would have even worked.

“Notoriously, Fourth of July is not the biggest day in the bar industry because people are not around,” he said. “So to think they’re going to come here just for a pub crawl or a block party, I don’t know. We’ve never tried it.”

He applauded the mayor’s decision.

“I think we all have to be safe. So, if they think that’s what we should do, I would agree with that,” Kwitzky added. “I’m sure that they’re going to try to get more business down here, which will all appreciate. But, I’m glad to see that science prevailed on this particular occasion.”

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