Southport Mayor Joseph P. Hatem, MD announced on Monday that the city has developed a safe plan to host the Southport Summer Market, the Summer Concert Series, the Plein Air festival and other city co-sponsored events with the assistance of the Southport Department of Tourism and Communication and local civic organizations. Events are on schedule to resume in June with a smaller capacity.

Under the governor’s executive order, festivals, parades and mass gatherings are not allowed, so Hatem says that larger events are planned to take place after Labor Day.

The N.C. 4th of July Festival Committee is planning to meet this week to review the mayor’s guidelines. Southport is the home of the North Carolina Fourth of July Festival, which took place virtually last year.

“The committee has a contingency plan in place, so we’ll need to figure out which parts of that plan can be initiated this year to adhere to the necessary public health initiatives,” said Karen Sphar, Executive Vice President of the Southport-Oak Island Chamber of Commerce, which serves as administrator for the annual 4th of July Festival.

Barring negative developments with the COVID-19 pandemic, Southport will be on track to host fall and holiday events including the Wooden Boat Show and Winterfest with civic organizers working closely with the city to ensure that all safety guidelines are met.

Some events for summer

Mayor Hatem said that several city facilities will open as of June 1 including the City of Southport Visitors Center, the Indian Trail Tree Meeting Hall and City Hall. Some outdoor programs will also be safely reinstated on a limited scale as of June 1. City facilities including the Southport Community Building and Franklin Square and Waterfront parks are also on the same timeline to reopening for events.

According to Hatem, all venues will continue to follow Governor Cooper’s executive order and Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) guidelines to create a safe environment for all citizens and visitors as they open.

“We ‘stay the course’ in terms of safety, but we adapt, we evolve, we find a better way forward,” said Hatem. He added that Southport has been open to visitors and commerce, while adhering to public health restrictions, since May 2020.

“The success of this initiative is dependent upon all Southport residents, businesses and visitors doing their part to adhere to the necessary health safety guidelines,” Hatem said. “Wear a mask, maintain social distancing and practice good hand hygiene. To protect the health of our community, whether personal, environmental or economic, is the cornerstone of how we move forward.”