Selectmen approve drive-in concert for July in Westport

The Tom Petty Project will perform at the July 3 Westport drive-in tailgate concert.

The Tom Petty Project will perform at the July 3 Westport drive-in tailgate concert.

Westport Chamber / Contributed photo

WESTPORT — While the town’s annual fireworks celebration for Fourth of July has been canceled because of the coronavirus, residents will have another way to celebrate together — a drive-in concert.

Last week, the Board of Selectmen unanimously approved the Westport-Weston Chamber of Commerce’s proposal to use the Imperial Avenue Parking Lot for a “Supper and Soul” event from 2 p.m to 10 p.m July 3 with July 5 as the rain date. The event is limited to 69 vehicles.

On Thursday, the state gave the thumbs-up.

“We believe it’s good for the community to have an event that’s different,” Matthew Mandell, executive director of the Westport-Weston Chamber of Commerce, said. “Here’s an event for the community.”

The Tom Petty Project will play at the concert, Mandell said, which will run from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Ticket purchasers will park and sit out in front of their cars to view the concert.

“The parking space would be their own area much like a table at a restaurant,” he said.

The Imperial Avenue Parking Lot would be closed to the public the night before the concert. On the day of the concert, Mandell said, volunteers will help guide cars into the parking lot. Around 69 cars will be allowed using every other parking space and every other row.

“Depending upon what the state allows us, either four or five people per car,” Mandell said. “At the moment, I’m looking at four.”

Mandell said state officials have not given permission for the concert to occur just yet, but he has been speaking with them.

“Essentially, your approval here would be conditional upon the state allowing this to occur,” he said. “We are hopeful the state will do that.”

He floated the idea of an $80 ticket per car of four people. When tickets are sold, buyers will be reminded to adhere to social distancing and volunteers will be on-site to enforce the rules.

“We don’t want to make it so much that it’s a burden,” Mandell said. “Our goal is to put together an event. Our goal is to make sure we get covered for our expenses and that there is something to give to some nonprofit.”

The Board of Selectmen also roundly showed support for the proposal.

“I love this idea, I want everybody to be happy, I want as many people who can get there to go and enjoy it,” Selectwoman Jen Tooker said. “I just think it’s a great idea and I think it’s a perfect weekend to do it.”