HENDERSONVILLE, TN (WSMV) — The City of Hendersonville's annual July 3 celebration at Drakes Creek Park has been canceled.
In an email obtained by News4, Hendersonville Director of Parks and Recreation Andy Gilley said that his staff has "no choice but to cancel this event."
"Despite working to put all kinds of precautions in place and doing everything possible to make this work, without the support of the leader of our city this leaves our staff with no choice but to cancel this event," Gilley wrote.
The decision comes after Hendersonville Mayor Jamie Clary said Tuesday at a press conference that he is not supporting the event due to the dangers presented by COVID-19 and would not attend with his children.
"To say that I am upset and frustrated that this would be stated by our mayor without any consultation with our city administrator or myself is an understatement," Gilley wrote in an email.
However, Clary said at the press conference that he has been saying "for over a month" that bringing a large group together for an event is a bad idea.
"My heart has broken for my friends in this business and today it breaks a little more because I firmly believe we had this set up to do it the right way," Gilley wrote. "My heart also hurts for our community because we so very badly need events right now for their mental well being as much as anything and I am committed to finding ways to make that happen."
Clary sent News4 the following statement Wednesday morning:
For more than a month I have expressed concerns about holding a large event that encourages people to gather. Andy Gilley and Dave LeMarbre were in those meetings. Other people in those meetings heard my comments and made similar ones.
We looked at alternatives. Those included postponing the event, only allowing a live-stream of the event, and moving to Sanders Ferry Park where more boats could participate. We looked at many ways that would avoid people gathering together in Drakes Creek Park.
Gilley was set on holding a concert with well known talent. When our regular organizers, the chamber of commerce, withdrew their resources, Gilley moved ahead with the support of the interim city administrator.
I have been asked many times what my feeling were of the event. They have remained consistent for more than a month.
This is a developing story. Stay with News4 for updates.