BOSTON (CBS) — Boston’s Fourth of July celebration is on – but it will look very different this year. Organizers announced Friday that a fireworks show is planned on Boston Common and the Boston Pops will perform from Tanglewood in western Massachusetts on the night of July 4th.
The usual Esplanade fireworks celebration and concert at the Hatch Shell will return in 2022, organizers said.
“After careful consideration of recent issuances from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts easing restrictions on masking, physical distancing, and capacity allowances, the Boston Pops determined that in order to best ensure the health and safety of everyone involved, it was prudent to postpone its return to the Esplanade until 2022, when there would be adequate time to plan and execute the complex event, which usually entails a ten-month planning process involving multiple government agencies and many event and concert planning organizations,” organizers said in a statement.
Capacity at Tanglewood will be limited to 9,000 for the concert, which starts at 8 p.m. The Pops will play Independence Day classics like Tchaikovsky’s 1812 overture, with special guests R&B singer Mavis Staples and “Late Show With Stephen Colbert” bandleader Jon Batiste.
Free tickets to the Tanglewood concert will be available on the Boston Symphony Orchestra website starting June 21.
The fireworks on Boston Common are planned from 10:30 p.m. to 11 p.m.
There will be no fireworks at Tanglewood, and no concert sound at Boston Common. The concert will be streamed on Bloomberg’s digital platforms.
“The Boston Pops July 4th Spectacular is one of the most iconic ways that Massachusetts recognizes our nation’s independence, and while the celebration may look different this year, it will still be a truly special way for all residents to celebrate the Fourth of July,” Gov. Charlie Baker said in a statement.
The Fourth of July celebration has been a tradition on the Esplanade for decades, but last year’s event was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
In 2019, half a million people lined the banks of the Charles River for the show.
The fireworks will likely draw a crowd to the common. But with the Covid infection rate minuscule here, and the event outside, epidemiologists think the risk is minimal.
“Overall, I do feel safe as long as folks are doing the right things, and our guidance that we follow from CDC is in that. If you’re unvaccinated, they really are encouraging folks to wear masks,” said Dr. Kim Kobayashi of UMass Memorial Health Center.
“I think that last summer we saw gatherings, marches, and that didn’t contribute to an increase in cases even with a totally unvaccinated population,” said Dr. Shira Doron of Tufts Medical Center. “Outside is safe, it really is. Outside is the best ventilation you could possibly get.”
Some people thought the Common was a great place for fireworks.
“I think the sooner we get back to normalcy in the world, we should feel free and freer, especially on the Fourth of July,” one man told WBZ-TV.
Others wanted the tradition of the Esplanade, even if there was no Pops.
“It’s not tradition anymore if we have it here,” said one woman.
The Pops have not welcomed live audiences to Symphony Hall since the start of the pandemic in March 2020. However, they have been doing virtual events and pop-up concerts in several Boston neighborhoods.