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Packard Band cancels July 4 concert, fireworks

WARREN — No fireworks will fill the sky over Packard Music Hall on the Fourth of July.

The W.D. Packard Concert Band is canceling at least its first three outdoor concerts, including the Fourth of July performance, due to social distancing restrictions issued by the state because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Independence Day concert traditionally draws a large crowd, and its fireworks display has been a part of the city’s holiday celebration for decades.

Executive Director Thomas Groth said he made the decision for the safety of the musicians and the audience.

“I held off as long as I could with the fireworks,” he said.

It would be impossible for an ensemble the size of the Packard Band, which has about 50 musicians, to practice social distancing within the group. Groth said he also worries about the added health risk with the brass instruments potentially spreading the virus.

“If you’re blowing air into a brass instrument, there are going to be particles,” he said. “If someone has the bug and is contagious, it’s going to go out there.”

The band’s summer season was supposed to start Sunday at the south lawn band shell of Packard Music Hall, and a second concert was planned June 21.

Groth said he will make a decision on the remaining concerts — full band performances on July 19 and Aug. 2 and 16 as well as the Big Band Sound of Packard on July 12 and the Packard Dixieland Band on July 25 — in case the current policies change.

He also left the door open to rescheduling the fireworks later in the summer if it would be feasible.

agray@tribtoday.com

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