Guest Commentary: Continued support for fireworks

Jared Grifoni
Marco Island City Council
Marco Island celebrated the Fourth of July with fun and games at Uncle Sam's Sand Jam, followed by fireworks and lightning, with the action centered on Residents' Beach.

Independence Day fireworks are back on Marco Island! After a one-year hiatus, our wonderful yearly tradition celebrating our nation’s independence and our individual liberties will be returning.

Marco Island City Council Vice chair Jared Grifoni

I have supported our fireworks display every year I’ve been on City Council (and many before); including last year when I was joined by two other Councilors in support but ultimately, they were cancelled on a 3-3 tie vote due to COVID-19 concerns. Over the past year, one of the most common comments I received from our citizens was in support of our fireworks display and asking if they would be back this year. I was pleased when our Council unanimously supported their return at our meeting earlier this week.

The fact that we are celebrating the return of fireworks on Independence Day in our little piece of paradise leads us into much larger issues. It’s not so much that our fellow citizens are excited about watching a fireworks show (we are!) but that their return indicates a continued shift back in the right direction after a year where we watched the values that we have held dear our entire lives be locked down, cancelled, shamed, and held hostage. Every day that passes, the authoritarian streak exposed in many is seen by more for what it is: A lust for control that manifests itself in actions that are anti-life.

In Florida, things have been different, and so to on Marco Island. Our city never shut down our businesses with local restrictions, we never mandated masks, we didn’t impose a curfew, we didn’t drag people off the beach in handcuffs, we didn’t close the bridge, we re-opened beach access points as soon as we reasonably could (and it would have been sooner if our original vote stood). We followed the Governor’s executive orders but reached out to him with a letter asking to roll them back, and then supported his leadership and efforts to do so. We, as fellow Marco Island citizens, spoke to each other, debated passionately, shared information and helped educate, but at the end of the day we were free to make our own decisions. Our numbers compared to other areas continue to support that approach.

I’ve put some special effort into bringing our other elected officials to speak at our City Council meetings to keep in communication and build relationships. We’ve had County Commissioner Rick LoCastro, state representative Bob Rommel, Congressman Byron Donalds, and most recently state senator Kathleen Passidomo. I’ve thanked them all for their varied efforts to keep Florida open and for supporting our citizens’ individual rights over the last year.

More:Former Marco Island Councilor Victor Rios' next trial date set for July

Governor DeSantis and the legislature led on legislation like the vaccine passport ban and emergency order limitations, both timely and much needed to protect liberties. It’s undeniable that the decisions Governor DeSantis made with support of the legislature and citizens throughout were the right ones, especially compared to other states that went in the opposite direction and are far worse off economically and on health metrics like hospitalizations and deaths, even with Florida having one of the highest elderly populations in the nation. I’m glad for him, I’m glad for the state of Florida, and I’m glad for our citizens and businesses that we have that type of leadership.

We can talk and debate about a number of bills passed or issues addressed during this past session that impact a lot of people but the most important of our time was a question of direction: towards authoritarianism or liberty. Our Governor, our local elected leaders at the state and federal level, as well as many at the County and City Council answered the only appropriate way: liberty.

More:Letters to the Editor, April 30