New Plan For Boston Pops At Jetties Beach Gains Traction With Town

The crowd might be smaller, security will be beefed up, and the fireworks may not be going off directly overhead, but it appears that the Boston Pops on Nantucket – the largest event of the summer every year on the island – will be back at Jetties Beach in 2022 after a two-year hiatus during the pandemic. 

In light of significant public safety concerns aired by the Nantucket Police and Fire Departments about the Pops, the event sponsor, Nantucket Cottage Hospital, presented a revised plan to the Select Board on Wednesday that outlines a series of changes and concessions to allow the concert to return to the beach. 

The highlights of the hospital’s new 40-page safety and security plan include: 

  • Maximum attendance set at 5,500 (a reduction of 1,000 tickets)
  • No outside alcohol except for reserved seating and receptions served by TIPPS certified staff
  • More security, including bag checks, provided by private security details and State Police Troopers
  • No fireworks on the beach, with a plan to possibly shoot them from a barge west of the west jetty

The event was cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic, and last summer’s Pops concert was also nixed due to the town’s concern over its ability to adequately staff the concert. Its future at Jetties Beach was in serious doubt following police chief Bill Pittman and fire chief Steve Murphy’s public criticism of the event late last year, but the hospital’s plan apparently assuaged those concerns. 

“The bottom line is we laid out our concerns, and they had a consultant that came in, talked to us and some others, and they articulated their concerns and their plan,” Pittman told the Current. “If they can pull that off, they’ll have a successful Pops. It’s going to depend on their ability to get State Police here. We’re very limited in our ability to get involved.” 

Gary Shaw, the hospital’s president and CEO, said the consulting firm The Command Group, made up of former Secret Service agents, had been retained to advise the hospital on responding to the concerns from the island’s public safety heads and putting together its plan for 2022. Shaw and Chris Glowacki, the hospital’s vice president for strategy and community development, presented that plan to the Select Board on Wednesday night.

“The Cottage Hospital for many, many years has relied on the outcome of the dollars that come from this and go to the Cottage Hospital to support its operations,” Shaw said. “We’re all in need of those dollars and we use them wisely. The support of this community has been unbelievable in the years we couldn’t have a live Pops. But we very much wanted to keep the theme of this event focused on the whole community.”

While the Select Board appeared pleased with the revised plan, there will still be a public hearing on the event to allow additional input before final permits are expected to be issued. 

“My concern was what changed between last year and this year staffing wise, and Chris (Glowacki) just answered that, that you’re bringing people in to help do this,” Select Board member Matt Fee said. “So I’m sure that makes the difference from the town side, so I’m happy to hear that. I think it’s great.”

The Boston Pops on Nantucket typically raises more than $2 million for Nantucket Cottage Hospital, and the live outdoor event has been a beloved island tradition for many residents and visitors for 25 years. 

This year’s event is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 13.

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