This July 4th will be an Independence Day like no one’s seen before.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, places across Southwest and Central Virginia are changing or canceling festivities and fireworks shows. Roanoke City, Smith Mountain Lake and Salem all pulled the plug completely.
Annual parades and festivals in Christiansburg, Blacksburg, Radford, Danville and Galax are also all canceled, but they’ll still shoot off fireworks in each locality.
However, some in-person celebrations are still on in Amherst, Covington and Clifton Forge.
“This is the most important time of the year for us,” said John Cosgrove, who owns Master Displays, a fireworks and pyrotechnics company in Roanoke.
Cosgrove is putting on fireworks shows across the region and he is making sure that his crews have face coverings and maintain social distancing. He said he’s worried other families might not do the same.
“I’m actually more worried about the social distancing this year than I am the fireworks,” said Cosgrove.
Renee Wood from TNT Fireworks in Roanoke said sales for at-home fireworks and sparklers have skyrocketed.
“For the most part, people have been saying they’d rather stay home, so a lot of people are doing these in their backyards or with friends on their streets,” said Wood. “Still wanting to be with loved ones, but not in huge groups.”
Christiansburg, Blacksburg, Moneta, Bedford, Narrows and other municipalities are asking families to enjoy the fireworks from home, around town or nearby shopping center parking lots inside or near their vehicles to practice social distancing.
In all this uncertainty for the future, Cosgrove said this is one tradition he’s happy to carry on.
“This will be a shot in the arm to the public who have been cooped up for so many months,” said Cosgrove. “If we have a second virus come through, at least we got something off for them this year to enjoy. They may not have football or sports, they at least had July 4th.”