The Fourth of July is often celebrated with fireworks, parades, barbeques, concerts, and baseball games, along with family gatherings and neighborhood social events. But this year, due to the coronavirus pandemic, Fourth of July celebrations will look a little different in communities and cities across the nation. Shelter-in-place orders are still in effect for many people, and the majority of cities have cancelled their fireworks and parades because it is not a good idea to have large, crowded gatherings at this time. Despite these changes, there are fun, festive, and most importantly, safe, ways you and your family can take part in the biggest holiday of the summer.
Let’s begin with the virtual celebrations. While we may feel a bit fatigued with virtual gatherings, this July 4th promises much glitz, glamor and fireworks to keep you and your family entertained. Many cities are opting to host virtual Independence Day celebrations, along with the nation’s capital. PBS will be broadcasting A Capital Fourth a celebration featuring musical performances, a tribute to our nation’s workers on the front lines in the fight against the pandemic, and fireworks. Hosted by John Stamos and Vanessa Williams, this 90-minute special airs on PBS from 8:00-9:30pm ET and will also be streaming on Facebook and YouTube. The concert will feature performances by Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer John Fogerty; Grammy Award-winning legend Patti LaBelle; legendary Motown stars The Temptations, and many more. PBS’s viewing party tool kit includes fun family activities, such as an American history quiz, stories of service, and coloring pages!
President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump will host the 2020 Salute to America on the South Lawn of the White House and Ellipse and it will be streamed live on the White House YouTube channel. This is another great virtual celebration option, as it will include music, military demonstrations, and flyovers to honor our Nation’s service members and veterans. The President’s Independence Day event will culminate in a fireworks display over the national mall, which you and your family can watch live from the safety of your home!
Philadelphia is hosting a 7-day free virtual “Welcome America” festival, featuring cultural programming, family-friendly workout events, activities for kids, and many more online experiences to get you and your loved ones excited to celebrate Independence Day. This virtual celebration culminates in a concert by Cynthia Erivo and Jason Derulo broadcast live on NBC10 at 8pm from the historic Met Philadelphia on the Independence Blue Cross Stage. Each and every one of these virtual Independence Day celebrations are being held to encourage people to not gather in large crowds to prevent spread of COVID-19.
The Fourth of July is about more than just food and fireworks. To honor our history and the importance of the Declaration of Independence, the National Archives in Washington will be hosting its annual reading ceremony of the Declaration. This year, the event is moved to its website and Facebook page. The reading starts at 4pm EST and is hosted by broadcast journalist Soledad O’Brien. July 4th with the National Archives also includes a variety of educational and family-friendly interactive programs with historical figures and current educators. All activities are free and open to the public, but registration is required.
If you decide to forgo the virtual celebrations and fireworks, you can still get festive. Share your community spirit with a Fourth of July display on your front yard. You can organize a neighborhood house decorating contest, to see who can create the most patriotic house. Then families can parade around the neighborhood in their cars, honking, waving, and wishing everyone a Happy Fourth. Depending on your local and state laws, a private fireworks display for your family and neighbors is another way to celebrate the 4th. Setting up lawn chairs and blankets 6 feet apart from those who don’t live with you is an easy way to keep your distance from others, while still connecting with your community. It is important to review the laws regarding fireworks before purchasing or using any. Glowsticks and sparkles are a fun and safe alternative to fireworks.
The best way to stay safe is to celebrate in person with just those who live with you – including pets! Dress up your pet(s) in their best patriotic accessories and post a photo on social media. Everybody loves a cute patriotic pet! Challenge your family to wear their best patriotic gear. Break out the American flag t-shirts, face paint, and patriotic face masks!
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not recommend large gatherings around barbeques this year, since the more closely you interact with others and the longer that interaction, the higher the risk of COVID-19 spread, but food can still play a central part in your 4th celebrations.
You can still enjoy all your favorite dishes at a family picnic in your own backyard. The beauty of celebrating our nation’s independence with just your fellow household members is that don’t need face masks and the six-foot social distancing barrier.
If you decide to interact with others, the CDC recommends practicing preventive actions. This includes keeping 6 feet of space between you and others, wearing a cloth face covering, and choosing outdoor places and activities. Connect with your neighbors and friends by dropping off some red, white, and blue treats! Fresh strawberries and blueberries with whipped cream makes for a simple and healthy sweet treat. Set up seats on your front walk using the social distancing guidelines and have fun conversations.
Being in a group of people who aren’t social distancing or wearing a face mask increases your risk of contracting COVID-19.
Many towns have reopened their beaches to residents and visitors, so if you plan on heading to the beach this Fourth of July remember to stay 6 feet apart from other groups of people on the beach. It is also important to bring face masks and hand sanitizer in case you are unable to maintain a safe distance from others. Can’t go to the beach because you or someone you live with is high risk for serious health problems from the coronavirus – make a beach in your own front yard! All you need is a hose and a large tarp or a sprinkler head to have fun in sun and beat the heat. Water balloons and toy water guns are fun for the whole family. It is important to wash your hands before making the balloons and washing any toys or sports equipment after use.
This Fourth of July can be full of festivity even without the traditional fireworks and parades. Make this a meaningful Independence Day by connecting with your loved ones while staying safe.