With the town considering scaling back and relocating large summer events like the annual Boston Pops concert at Jetties Beach, the Nantucket Island Chamber of Commerce is taking a stand in support of continuing such gatherings.
The Chamber’s Board of Directors voted unanimously this week to issue a letter to the Select Board emphasizing the importance of large events for island non-profits like Nantucket Cottage Hospital, as well as the positive economic impacts they provide to businesses.
Ahead of an upcoming Select Board workshop in August on potential changes for large events on Nantucket, the Chamber will specifically advocate for keeping the Pops at Jetties Beach and maintaining the size of the event that raises for more than $2 million annually for the hospital.
“It’s a serious concern to have these events be put on safely,” Town Manager Libby Gibson said earlier this week. “Police and fire have raised concerns that are alarming. In the event of some kind of incident at the Pops concert with 7,000 people at Jetties Beach? I know there’s an emergency management plan, but there’s concern as to how that would actually come off. They’ve always had these concerns, but as these events have been getting bigger and bigger, those concerns increased. This year it’s come to a head because we didn’t have the physical staff for it. We don’t have the bodies.”
Indeed, the hospital was forced to cancel this year’s Boston Pops on Nantucket even with all COVID-19 restrictions having been lifted in May. It will be the second straight year without the biggest event of the summer on the island. Over its 25-year history, the Boston Pops on Nantucket has had some issues – underage drinking, small areas of beach grass that caught on fire after the fireworks, for example – but there have been no major safety incidents in more than two decades.
Disclosure: I sit on the Board of Directors of the Nantucket Island Chamber of Commerce, but did not attend or participate in the meeting this week in which this matter was discussed and the vote took place.