CHARLOTTE – A celebration of America’s independence, the 4th of July is commonly associated with parades, small-town festivals, outdoor concerts, fireworks displays, and cookouts with family and friends.
This year, continued prohibitions on mass gatherings aimed at limiting the spread of COVID-19 necessitate that most 4th of July celebrations look a bit different. Many citizens expected North Carolina to enter the final phase of Governor Cooper’s reopening plan last week, but the Governor announced on the 24th that the state would remain in Phase 2 for an additional three weeks. His decision extends the current prohibitions on mass gatherings, limiting indoor gatherings to ten and outdoor gatherings to twenty-five.
Governor Cooper’s decision to extend Phase 2 has necessitated the cancellation of many beloved 4th of July activities. Harrisburg, Indian Trail, and Matthews have all canceled their usual 4th of July celebrations. The US National Whitewater Center had hoped a move into Phase 3 would pave the way for their annual 4th of July celebration, but it, along with all events at the Whitewater Center, remain on hold.
“We are waiting for Governor Cooper and the state of North Carolina to clear large-scale events before we lift the hold on our 4th of July celebrations,” says Lauren from Guest Services. “Please check in on our social media channels as well as our website for any updates regarding events.”
The Governor’s decision has left many people in search of different ways to celebrate Independence Day this year. “We usually go to New York City every year for the 4th and check out fireworks with my sister across the bridge in NJ,” says Jennifer Stanley. “Clearly, that’s not happening,” continues Stanley. “I don’t know what we’re going to do this year? Just chill at home, I guess.”
“We go to the Harrisburg fireworks every year with my mom, who’s been taking my sisters for at least the last eight years, so that’s a bummer it’s canceled,” says mom of two Rosie Kakachyan. “We wouldn’t have gone and sat in the crowd, but you can still see them from the main road and parking lots. We are going to have a small barbecue and fireworks out front this year instead.”
There are still things to do for the fourth in the greater Charlotte area, but you might have to be willing to try something new or drive a little farther to find them.
If you’re looking for fireworks, consider a drive to Gastonia. Although they have had to cancel their traditional 4th of July celebration, which includes food trucks, vendors, a beer garden, and entertainment, the City of Gastonia will still be presenting a free fireworks show sponsored by CaroMont Health. The fireworks will begin at 9:30 pm on July 4th and last approximately fifteen minutes. Fireworks may be viewed from downtown Gastonia, and the City of Gastonia encourages viewers to visit downtown restaurants and shops before viewing the fireworks.
A great spot to hit up in downtown Gastonia is Cavendish Brewing. Located at 207 North Chester Street, the brewery patio is the perfect family-friendly location from which to watch the fireworks display. With front-facing glass windows and plenty of patio chairs and picnic tables, Cavendish Brewing promises not only the best view in town but also family-friendly activities running from 3:00 pm through 11:00 pm including a free ice cream social at 3:00 pm and an “All American Dog Social” at 4:00 pm.
Kings Mountain is another place you can still catch a free fireworks show on the 4th. Although the city chose to eliminate activities that draw crowds to a central location, like live entertainment and food vendors, they didn’t want to let people down by canceling their annual City of Kings Mountain Revolutionary 4th Red, White, and BOOM Fireworks Show! This year’s fireworks show has been relocated to downtown Kings Mountain, which offers a wide viewing radius that extends well beyond the downtown area. Before the fireworks, the City of Kings Mountain will release a tribute to Kings Mountain’s Class of 2020 live on the City of Kings Mountain’s Special Events Page. The video tribute will be available at approximately 9:00 pm, and the fireworks will begin at 9:45 pm.
You can also catch fireworks on Friday, July 3rd when the Gastonia Grizzlies play the Forest City Owls. The first fireworks extravaganza of the season promises to be “the best fireworks in town at the greatest show in town!” The game begins at 7:00 pm, and tickets start at $15.
If you’re looking for a family-friendly daytime event, consider a visit to Dallas Lavender Lane. The family farm is hosting a free, relaxed outdoor celebration that includes craft vendors, Dan’s Good Que, Morgan’s Ice Cream, u-pick lavender, a petting zoo, putt-putt, a dunking booth, patriotic trivia with DJ Eddie and unique treats like lavender lemonade and lavender cotton candy. Sure to be a highlight of the day, Santa Claus will make an appearance in his summer duds on the “Polar Express,” the farm’s trackless train. Festivities at Dallas Lavender Lane will run from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.
“We have signs up everywhere that ask for everyone to keep social distancing,” said a representative from Dallas Lavender Lane. “We have almost 40 acres, so we’re like 20 Wal-Marts, so social distancing is really not a problem. We encourage people to wear face masks if they are uncomfortable.”
The evening of July 4th, GreenLife Family Farms in Concord will be presenting a live concert. The farm’s very own house band, the GreenLife Family Band, will kick off the evening at 6:00 with their “rockin’ soulful blues,” followed by the North Carolina debut of country artist Lindsay Jordan and her awesome all-girl band. “Local legends in the making” Late Night Special will close out the evening.
Barbecue, hot dogs and burgers will be available for purchase from Terry’s Dawgs, and visitors are welcome to bring their own cooler of beverages (no glass allowed). Gates open at 4:00 pm for the family-friendly event, which will include plenty of space and games for kids. The concert is free, but you do need to RSVP via Facebook to reserve a spot. Donations are accepted for the musicians.
“Our show field is over five acres, so there’s plenty of room for folks to spread out as much as they’d like,” says a representative from GreenLife Farms. “We will not be imposing any requirements as far as masks, social distancing, etc. This is America, after all, folks are free to celebrate as they please!”
For a more low-key 4th of July celebration, take advantage of Free Fishing Day. On July 4th, anyone can fish for free (with no fishing license) at any public body of water in the state of North Carolina. Many locations even offer free loaner equipment. Sponsored by the NC Wildlife Resources Commission and authorized by the NC General Assembly, Free Fishing Day has been an annual tradition since 1994. It always falls on July 4th.
South of the state line where there are fewer limits on social gatherings, you’ll find a bit more to do if you’re willing to risk a crowd. Tega Cay’s 4th of July Celebration will feature events in different locations across the city from 9:00 am to 10:00 pm on July 4th, including a land parade, a paddleboard joust, a boat parade, a performance by the Carolina Show Ski Team and, of course, fireworks. For more information, visit https://www.tegacaysc.org/1019/4th-of-July-Celebration.
In Fort Mill, the Baxter Village-Fort Mill July 4th Parade promises to be the largest and most entertaining July 4th Parade in the Fort Mill/Charlotte region! The parade will feature more than 100 units of entertainment, including the fire department and military honor guards, pro sports mascots and bands, Shriners, classic cars, floats, clowns, and more! The parade steps off from 940 Market Street in Fort Mill at 9:30 am, and the best viewing happens along Market Street in Baxter Village Town Center.
Statements about masking were made before Governor Cooper’s universal, statewide masking mandate. Please check local guidelines to ensure you comply with local laws.