The Safety Harbor City Commission recently approved four special events for 2018, including the Safety Harbor Songfest, set for April 7-8 at the Waterfront Park and Marina.
While the City of Safety Harbor is in the midst of its centennial celebration, highlighted by 100 special events to be capped by the three-day Folk and Fruit and Games extravaganza in November, officials recently approved a quartet of events for next year.
During a meeting on May 15, the City Commission unanimously approved four 2018 events—the Best Damn Race (2/3), Bands and Beer on the Bay (3/3), the Primavera Music Festival (3/24) and the Safety Harbor Songfest (4/7-8).
While the four events were ultimately okayed, concerns were raised regarding safety at the Primavera festival, an immensely popular first-year event in 2017 that was highlighted by a helicopter Easter egg drop, as well as marina access during certain events.
“I attended it, it was a success, I enjoyed it tremendously,” Commissioner Cliff Merz said of the festival when the agenda item was discussed. “I do have to admit, I was standing there with all of the kids with the helicopters, and I was both awed by it and I was also concerned by it.”
A screen shot taken from a video of the Primavera Music Festival’s helicopter egg drop. (Credit: Facebook/Primavera Music Festival)
“I was just sitting there thinking this is really cool, and man, this could really go wrong,” he added. “It was very cool, I get it, but when it was going on I was thinking I’m not comfortable with it in the future…and I would be remiss if I didn’t say it.”
Festival organizer Richard Thompson answered Merz’s concerns by saying he met with Safety Harbor Fire Department officials that morning to discuss the safety issues, and he said the event organizers are planning to change the delivery method of the egg drop next year.
“We are looking at next year it’s actually going to go to a hot air balloon,” Thompson said. “But, we still may use the helicopter, but we would have much, per the fire chief, further back from the crowd, twice as far. So we are going to address that issue for next year’s event.”
Merz reiterated his disapproval of the helicopter being used at all, and Thompson concurred, but he explained the use of the hot air balloon is contingent on weather conditions.
“We are shooting for the hot air balloon, but it is wind-dependent, unfortunately,” he said, noting the balloon cannot launch if winds are more than 8 miles per hour. “We’re hoping that’s the route it’s gonna go, but if we did use the helicopter, it would be with much more safety precautions involved.”
Safety Harbor Mayor Joe Ayoub.
Mayor Joe Ayoub acknowledged the concerns, but he said he was pleased the festival organizers were aware of and working to address them.
“I’m comforted by the fact that you guys realize it is a big safety concern,” Ayoub said.
“But I’m not totally opposed to the helicopter.”
Prior to voting on the item, a resident brought up his concerns about the marina being closed during certain special events.
“Now that we’ve got the extra space there, could we look at the possibility of moving the entrances back so that they’re not blocking off the access to the boat ramp,” Colin Young asked, noting the additional space available at the Waterfront Park.
Mayor Ayoub and Commissioner Andy Zodrow agreed with Young, and Safety Harbor Special Events Director Joe Cooper said they are working to address the issue.
Safety Harbor officials are working on making the boat ramp at the marina more accessible during special events.
“One of the things were working on is how to blend all this and make sure it’s safe for everybody,” Cooper said.
“If you have a bunch of people who are not walking on the sidewalk, or the sidewalks are too crowded due to the attendance of the events, it’s just not safe.”
Cooper added they are also trying to utilize the Waterfront Park more, thus freeing up space on Veterans Memorial Lane.
“We’re working on it,” he said, adding many of the city’s special events do allow access to the marina and the pier.
“We do try and accommodate everybody, and everybody’s got a different need.”