OHIO VALLEY — The celebration must go on … at least in some places.
It will be an Independence Day unlike any others in the area. Some cities and villages will continue with their celebrations as in the past, while others have canceled celebrations in their entirety, and still others have made modifications to their plans in the wake of COVID-19.
Here is a look at what is planned around our region for the upcoming holiday weekend.
The July 4th celebration in the village of Racine will take place as it has in previous years.
The day will begin with the parade at 10 a.m. Lineup will take place at 9:30 a.m. at the Southern Local School District campus.
Following the parade will be the Racine Volunteer Fire Department chicken BBQ and homemade ice cream at 11 a.m. This will be a carry out only event this year.
At 8 p.m. will be the Frog Jumping contest at 8 p.m. (signups begin at 7:30 p.m.) at Star Mill Park. Bring your own frog or rent one of the frogs which are caught and provided by Chris Wolfe.
Kona Ice will also be at the park from 6-10 p.m., sponsored by Home National Bank. Bank customers will be receiving free coupons at the drive-through with their transactions this week, as well as the first 50 items free that evening at the park.
The festivities will conclude with the fireworks display at 10 p.m. at Star Mill Park. Attendees are asked to remain in or around their vehicles in order to social distance when possible.
The traditional Middleport 4th of July celebration will not take place, but the fireworks display will be held. There will be no parade or activities in the evening leading up to the fireworks.
Ben Nease of the Middleport Business Association stated that the fireworks will be launched at 10 p.m. from behind the former Dairy Queen building. Those attending are encouraged to watch from their vehicles and to social distance. The Town of Mason once again helped fund a portion of the fireworks display with a $5,000 donation, allowing spectators from both sides of the river to enjoy.
For the first time in its 70 year history, the Rutland Ox Roast will not take place. The celebration, which typically includes a parade, activities in the park, music, fireworks and the famous Rutland Roast Beef, is organized by the Rutland Volunteer Fire Department.
Bruce Davis with the Rutland Volunteer Fire Department explained that the decision is not due to concerns over COVID-19, but due to the shortage and rising cost of the beef needed for Rutland’s famous roast beef, and the unavailability of fireworks.
While the event is cancelled for 2020, the fire department is working to plan a smaller “Family Fun Day” event which will take place at the fire house. That event will likely include roast beef sandwich sales, popcorn, snow cones, ice cream, and activities. The parade and fireworks will not take place during that event. No date has been announced for the family fun day.
For more information about upcoming events for the Rutland Volunteer Fire Department visit them on Facebook.
Though the Gallipolis River Recreation Festival (traditionally held July 3-4) has been postponed this year due to the COVID-19 outbreak, organizers announced Friday, they are looking at Sept. 12 as a tentative date to host fireworks and offer safe food options and games. This is subject to change with more details in upcoming editions.
The French Art Colony is kicking off the 2020 Hot Summer Nights concert series on both Thursday, July 2 and Friday, July 3. The Stringbenders, featuring Jason Stout, Nick Rocchi, and Beej Rocchi, will be starting things off on Thursday evening. On Friday, the FAC welcomes Hard Reign, featuring Chad Jones Patrick Clark. Gates open at 6 p.m., with music at 6:30 p.m. On special Friday evening performances, gates open at 6:30 p.m., with music at 7 p.m. Entry fee for the show is $5, except for FAC members, who may attend at no charge. Food will be available with donation along with a cash bar throughout the evening.
On Friday, July 3, gospel music will still fill Gallipolis City Park on the day before the Fourth. The free concert, slated for 5-8 p.m. will feature the James Rainey Trio, The Neal Family and Sincere Revival. Lawn chairs, social distancing and other health and safety precautions regarding COVID-19 are recommended.
Mason and New Haven
The towns of New Haven and Mason will be having parades on July 4. The New Haven parade will begin at 11 a.m., with line-up at 10:30 a.m. on Layne Street, near the pool. The Mason parade will begin at noon, with line-up at 11:30 a.m. at the Faith Baptist Church parking lot. Those wishing to participate are asked to call the respective town halls, New Haven at 304-882-3203, and Mason at 304-773-5200.
In an effort to protect those in attendance, the Point Pleasant City Council unanimously decided to only have fireworks on July 4 at the city’s Liberty Fest, which was originally scheduled at Riverfront Park for July 3-4 and was expected to offer music, vendors and a parade. Mayor Brian Billings said the safety concerns for visitors and the citizens of the city were the priority of council when making the decision.
“It was a long discussion — in depth. (Council) tackled every angle that they could,” Billings said. “There’s no parade. There’s no vendors. There’s no music. But we will have fireworks.”
The fireworks are scheduled for Saturday, July 4 at 10 p.m. They will be set off from a barge on the Ohio River in front of Riverfront Park. Billings said the city council previously approved to spend around $9,000 on the firework display.
Billings explained social distancing measures will be worked out before the event to ensure the safety of those in attendance. More on these measures in an upcoming editions.
Also, in regards to Liberty Fest, there will be a “Patriotic Virtual Pageant” held as a Facebook Event on July 3. The contest does not replace the actual Liberty Fest Pageant. During the Patriotic Virtual Pageant, videos will be uploaded on the Facebook Event for judging to take place.
“Our Patriotic Virtual Pageant will be an online contest where those interested can compete for a free entry for the 2021 pageants,” Delyssa Edwards, pageant organizer, said.
The deadline to enter is July 1 at 11:59 p.m. and costs $10 per contestant. Each contestant will get $5 off their entry fee in 2021. The winners of the virtual pageant will earn a free entry to compete in 2021. The winners will also be sent a tiara and recognized in the 2021 program.
In addition, Mayor’s Night Out will go on, offering a free concert July 3 at Riverfront Park kicking off the holiday weekend. Flatrock Revival will be taking the stage from 8-10 p.m., along the river, playing country, rock and Blues.
Beth Sergent, Sarah Hawley, Kayla Hawthorne and Mindy Kearns contributed to this report.
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