SOUTH HAVEN, Mich. (WOOD) — South Haven officials have decided to cancel this year’s Independence Day weekend fireworks show due to high water levels.

The popular display is held July 3 off the city’s north pier. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has recorded all-time records for water levels for Lake Michigan in January and February and the agency is predicting it will be eight to 10 inches higher by July.

Those elevated water levels will create higher wave action that will effectively submerge the pier, making it unsafe for pyrotechnics experts to do the show, according to a Thursday news release from the city.

“There is a great deal of logistical complexity that goes into July 3 fireworks, which takes months of planning and coordination to execute. We felt it was important to communicate this decision now so that we didn’t invest time and money into planning an event we won’t be able to host safely,” City Manager Brian Dissette said in the release.

Last year, officials nearly canceled the Fourth of July show due to the water levels. Ultimately, it did go on as planned.

Tyler Smothers, a resident of South Haven, has been going to the beach to watch the South Haven fireworks since he was 5.

“It’s going to be weird not to have it this year,” Smothers said.

He hopes the city can find another place for the show.

“I’m surprised that they didn’t move locations, put it at the high school or something like Bangor does,” Smothers said. “It’s definitely a shock to the entire community.”

Downtown business that rely on strong summer sales wonder what the decision could mean for them. Trenton Bulat, the bar manager of Phoenix Street Cafe, is also hoping the city will find a new location.

“Yes, it’s going to affect us adversely but at the same time it’s going to present us with a few opportunities,” Bulat said.

He believes community leaders could create a different type of event that draws people to the area.

“I think it’s a smart move to just call it off now and maybe try to plan some kind of alternative that could be just as good and draw just as big of a crowd of people,” Bulat said.

In an interview with News 8, Dissette said the city is looking for ideas.

“With this early announcement, it will likely motivate some people in the community to get creative and possibly bring ideas for the city’s management team to consider,” Dissette said.

He says other location are being sought, which could have the potential to save the show. Dissette thinks the area will continue to have plenty to offer to visitors.

“In just a few more months, we’ll be opening the beaches, we’ll be opening our brand new splash pad and though we won’t have fireworks on the beach, we will have a lot of things for people to do,” Dissette said.

Officials are considering adding fireworks to the citywide New Year’s Eve celebration, which includes activities like ice skating, dancing, street performers and laser lights.

“We are considering shifting some of these activities closer to Riverfront Park and adding a fireworks display,” Scott Reinert, executive director of the South Haven/Van Buren County Convention & Visitors Bureau, said in a statement. “This would be a wonderful way to put an exclamation point on the year just wrapping up — and welcoming the new year.”

—News 8’s Kyle Mitchell contributed to this report.


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