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Fireworks fizzle in Long Beach on the Fourth, but a Labor Day Comeback is planned

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A large barge will be positioned in the Atlantic. People will be lined along the boardwalk. At some point, streams of red, white and blue streaks will shoot from the barge, lighting up the skies over Long Beach.

The Fourth of July this Saturday? No. The scene will take place, tentatively anyway, Sept. 4, Labor Day weekend.

The City of Long Beach has postponed its annual Fourth of July celebration this year, from July 10, to \ Sept. 4, because of concerns over the spread of the coronavirus. Fireworks have also been postponed or cancelled in many municipalities in Nassau County and New York City. A rain date is set for Sept 5.

Will Sept. 4 be a safer date? "We're hopeful," said John McNally, executive assistant to the Long Beach City manager. "We're living in a time when social distancing is necessary."

Will it be necessary to limit crowds on Sept. 4? "It's too early to tell," McNally said.

The coronavirus, now spiking in a number of states, has struck at virtually every American institution. So it should come as little surprise that the idea of large crowds watching fireworks is something that is not going to happen this troubling summer.

The barrier beach will be silent over the holiday weekend, except for the nearly constant crack of illegal fireworks on city streets, a headache for Long Beach police.

The postponement of the annual fireworks show is a blow to Long Beach, a summer town that basically kicks off its season on the Fourth of July, said Ian Danby, chairman of the city's Chamber of Commerce.

"The Fourth of July draws people from all over the place,' Danby said. "The fireworks display is a major enticement."

"This is just a completely different year," Danby said. A delay, Danby said, may yet be better in one sense: the summer season will continue until past Labor Day But, Danby said, the postponement, while necessary is a "disappointment."

At Swingbellys, a popular BBQ restaurant on the West End, the postponement of fireworks on the Fourth w\ill have an impact on business, said Sean Corrigan, a bartender and waiter. "We won't have the rush we usually have on the Fourth" when people stop in for a bite to pick up some BBQ for the beach.

"It is a disappointment," Corrigan said.

Dr. Susan Valicenti, a psychologist in Long Beach, said, "Certainly anything that can be done to help people find pleasure is good. We've had a lot of disappointments' in the last few months. But this virus kills quickly. The highest priority right now is protecting lives."

Rabbi Jack Zanerhaft of Temple Emanu-El in Long Beach. said the silence of the usual holiday noise this weekend, is an unhappy break with America's past. "We are wired to be with other people," the rabbi said.

"The fireworks may be loud, but under proper control and at a distance, they are exciting to see," Zanerhaft said. "The crowds, at a safer time, are a unifying sight. "

But not this year, Zanerhaft said.