A resolution stating Bexley always will hold Independence Day festivities on July 4 is set to come before Bexley City Council this month.
Mayor Ben Kessler and council President Lori Ann Feibel addressed the matter at a Jan. 29 forum at Bexley City Hall.
Kessler and Feibel said city officials have discussed for several years how best to handle the Independence Day celebration when July 4 falls on a Saturday or Sunday.
"Traditionally, the way Bexley has handled the Fourth of July calendar is to track the federal holiday," Kessler said.
Kessler said up until now, the city celebrated the Fourth of July on the actual date when the holiday fell on a Saturday but moved the celebration to a Monday when it fell on a Sunday.
From now on, the city is proposing to celebrate the Fourth of July on the actual date, regardless of whether it falls on a Saturday, Sunday or any other day of the week, he said.
Kessler said the city began to reexamine when to hold the Independence Day in response to residents' inquiries.
"We had residents ask us why there's a disparity, especially because of the sensitivity to worshiping populations ... specifically with our Jewish population," Kessler said.
In the past several months, Kessler said he, Feibel and other city representatives talked with Bexley Celebrations & Events volunteers, who organize the city's Independence Day activities, and also met with local clergy, community groups and residents.
The resulting proposal would depend on the calendar.
"So if it falls on a Saturday, we will continue to celebrate on a Saturday, which is the case this year in 2020. When it falls on a Sunday, we will celebrate it on a Sunday so that we have absolute parity and we are simply bound by the calendar," Kessler said.
Kessler said city officials considered moving the Independence Day celebration to Friday when July 4 falls on a Saturday, but the city administration doesn't want to conflict with the annual Red, White & Boom! celebration in downtown Columbus and businesses that remain open.
"Just as a matter of general practice, offices are often still open on a Friday when (July) Fourth falls on a Saturday," Kessler said. "Whereas it is less common for offices to be open on a Monday when the Fourth falls on a Sunday."
Bexley Public Library director Ben Heckman said moving the Independence Day celebration to a Friday would impact library staff's ability to take part in the parade.
"The library would be open on Friday and closed on Saturday, in that scenario," Heckman said. "So that would most likely prevent the library from participating in the parade, as we've done every year."
Another suggestion that came up during discussions, Kessler said, was moving the city's Independence Day parade from the morning to the afternoon when the holiday falls on a Saturday. He said city officials and celebration organizers ultimately decided against that because of the weather and the time required to set up for evening festivities and fireworks.
"It gets too hot as the day progresses," Kessler said. "We already have issues with the heat with the parade being in the morning."
"It is really, really hot at 9:30 in the morning sometimes," Feibel said.
Kessler said congregations that hold Saturday worship services are accustomed to adjusting the times of their services when the Independence Day parade is held on a Saturday.
Bexley council member Richard Sharp said moving forward with holding the parade when July 4 falls on a Sunday would likely be an adjustment for area churches.
"Regardless of whether it's in the morning or afternoon, having a parade on Sunday, the participants in the parade will decrease significantly," Sharp said.
Though the Jan. 29 forum was attended by only seven people, including library and city officials, Kessler said, the public would have the opportunity to weigh in when the resolution receives three readings before council votes on it. Kessler did not specify whether the resolution would be introduced at council's Tuesday, Feb. 11, or Feb. 25 meeting; both are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. at Bexley City Hall, 2242 E. Main St.
"There will be additional opportunities for the public to provide some input into that proposal," Kessler said.
Kessler and Feibel said they are hopeful the decision to always hold the city's Independence Day celebration on July 4 would be minimally disruptive, since the holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday only once or twice every decade.
"Some of us said that maybe the good news is that nobody's happy," Feibel said. "They're not going to be happy on one day; the other side of the coin's not going to be happy on the other. But we all believe that equity is so important."