Will Nantucket’s Large Events Become a Thing of the Past?

Are the days of large events like the Boston Pops on Nantucket numbered? We’re about to find out. Citing safety concerns and lack of staffing resources, town leaders are seriously considering scaling back, moving, or making other changes to the island’s largest summertime events like the Pops, the Fourth of July celebrations, and the Nantucket Triathlon. 

“It’s a serious concern to have these events be put on safely,” Town Manager Libby Gibson said. “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. Likewise for the Fourth of July celebrations on Main Street. 

Even so, the Select Board will convene for a special workshop on Tuesday, Aug. 10, at 9 a.m. to discuss the feasibility of large events. Gibson has asked the town’s Visitor Services Advisory Committee to consider providing feedback and recommendations to the board. 

“The board members have been getting feedback from their constituents about events in general – are there too many? Stating that they’re disrupting summer, that kind of thing,” Gibson said. “Does the town have the resources to manage large scale events?”


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