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Fourth of July: A guide of what to do and how to stay safe doing it
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Fourth of July: A guide of what to do and how to stay safe doing it

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This year our nation celebrates more than 244 years of independence.

And while many of us are yearning for the bright red, white and blue festivities we’ve come to expect on Independence Day, this year, things are looking a little different thanks to the worldwide pandemic, with countless municipalities cancelling their annual celebrations. All hope is not lost, though. While some places are considering postponing fireworks until September, giving us something festive to look forward to, not everything is cancelled. Some things are simply changed.

Rather than bike parades and fireworks in every town, we’re seeing evidence of smaller scale events, some of which are truly unique.

Here’s our guide to what festivities are happening where, as well as a recap on how to enjoy them safely.

This is the most updated information available at the time of printing, but as with all events in the time of COVID-19, we recommend double-checking prior to heading to any celebrations.

Parades

If you’re one of the throngs of people who believe that the Fourth of July could not actually exist without an Independence Day Parade, we’ve got good news for you — not all of the parades are cancelled.

Head to Manahawkin for a Bike and Car Show Drive-By Parade. Hosted by Main Street Alliance Church, this parade kicks off 11 a.m. Saturday at 1000 N. Main Street in Manahawkin. Go to Main Street Alliance Church on Facebook for more information.

For all the festivities we normally equate with the Fourth of July, head to North Wildwood, where it appears to be business as usual. Both the bike and pooch parades kick off at 8 a.m. Contestants are encouraged to show their patriotic spirit with decorated bikes, wagons, and pups (who must be leashed). And the party doesn’t stop there, as fireworks are scheduled to kick off at 10 p.m. Go to NorthWildwood.com for more information.

Fireworks

While fireworks have been lighting up much of the country lately, they’re quite a sight to behold on Independence Day. Like the parades, plenty of planned fireworks have been cancelled this year, but there are still a surprising amount of places to watch them. Unless otherwise noted, everything listed takes place on Saturday, July 4.

For Friday night fireworks, head to Beach Drive and Lincoln Boulvard in Lower Township to catch a show right over the Delaware Bay. Expect the pyrotechnic display to kick off around 9 p.m. Friday. Go to TownshipOfLower.org for more information.

Fireworks are on in Vineland! Per tradition, the show can be watched from behind Vineland High School, at Chestnut avenue and Brewster road. While there’s no specific time for the fireworks display, they generally take place at dusk. Go to VinelandCity.org for more information.

In Millville, the city will be holding fireworks at approximately 9 p.m. at Union Lake Park. The city is asking that everyone maintain social distancing. Go to MillvilleNJ.Gov for more information.

While the parade has been cancelled in Hammonton, that’s not the case for the fireworks. Head to the Hammonton High School at dusk to watch the sky light up in honor of our nation’s independence. Located at 100 Central Ave. in Hammonton. Go to Town of Hammonton on Facebook for more information.

The Cape May Whale Watcher is gearing up for two Independence Day Weekend cruises. On Friday, the cruise sets out for the Delaware Bay near North Cape May to catch the Lower Township fireworks. On Saturday, the boat will be in the Atlantic Ocean, catching the fireworks of one of the local islands. Both cruises start at 7 p.m. and include free pizza and hot dogs, as well as a cash bar. Go to CapeMayWhaleWatcher.com for more information.

Additional celebrations

Though fireworks and parades are the things we often equate the most with the Fourth of July, some municipalities and organizations are gearing up for something a little bit different this year.

In Cape May, there are a bevy of patriotic events being held all weekend long, and many of them don’t even require you to leave your house. From a home decorating contest with prizes awarded for Best Home, Best Business, Best Nighttime Display and Judge’s Choice; a Citywide Bell Toll at 7:30 p.m.; a patriotic flyover of two SNJ WWII Advanced Trainer Aircraft at 7:45 p.m.; a Cape May Red, White, & Blue Virtual Bike Parade and the Virtual Cape May Patriotic Pet Contest, there’s plenty of fun to be had from the safety of your home. Additionally, Cape May is home to the Cape May Star Spangled Sand Sculpting Contest at 10 a.m.; free music in Rotary Park at 6:30 on Saturday and Sunday; and The Great Cape May Bakeoff at 1 p.m. on Sunday. Go to DiscoverCapeMayNJ.com for more information.

Margate, head to a Fourth of July Beach Bash hosted by POX Catering. The party kicks off at 11:30 a.m. Bracelets are $20 and include food and non-alcoholic beverages, though guests are encouraged to bring a cooler with their favorite adult beverages. Located at Essex Avenue beach in Margate. Go to Pox Catering on Facebook for more information.

In Wildwood, the city is home to the Wildwood Boardwalk Craft Show from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday through Sunday, and will host a “Party in the Plaza” with a free concert from the Sensational Soul Cruisers from 7 to 10 p.m. in Byrne Plaza. Go to WildwoodsNJ.com for more information.

For a truly unique Fourth of July experience, head to the ICW No Holds Barred Vol. 3 “Deathmatch Drive-In” in Atlantic City. With a 50-car limit, this “Drive-In” wrestling event features Eddie Kingston vs. Brett Ison; Casanova Valentine vs. Matthew Justice; and John Wayne Murdoch vs. “Old Timer” Jeff King. Located at 144 S. Tennessee Ave. in Atlantic City. Go to ICW No Holds Barred on Facebook for more information.

COVID-19 restrictions on outdoor events in NJ Things are changing rapidly in New Jersey. At the time of this writing, COVID-19 Restrictions on outdoor events are as follows:

• Outdoor gatherings must be limited to 250 people and social distancing must be practiced with attendees staying 6 feet apart from other groups (you may stay close to your family or other members of your household).

• The number of occupants at outdoor events may increase from 250 to 500 on July 3 if the state’s downward trend in COVID-19 cases continues.

Staying safe

As we celebrate our nation’s independence, we are also celebrating our ability to gather with friends and family for our first post-shutdown holiday. To keep it safe, we recommend the following:

• Keep a distance of at least 6 feet from other groups of people.

• Per usual Fourth of July safety tips, keep your kids away from the fireworks. And don’t light them on our head.

• Pack some hand sanitizer along with your bug spray — you’ll need both this holiday.

• Wear a mask. This is the perfect opportunity to wear your patriotism right on your face — flag themed face masks, anyone?

Will you stay (home) or will you go?

Deciding whether or not to attend Independence Day celebrations this year is fraught with COVID-19 related anxiety. On the one hand, we want to keep our traditions and encourage hope for our children. On the other hand, it can be a little bit frightening. Here are some local opinions:

“I may find a good spot to park my car and watch from a distance.”

— Tarin Allegretto Burke, Upper Township

“No. If they are available or not, (I’m) not ready to be among a crowd.”

— Frank Toth, Middle Township

“Yes. We live in Margate and will watch them from the beach. My 11 year-old can’t wait. I want him to keep enjoying the joys I had as a kid.”

— Kara Cermanski, Margate

“First time we’ll miss them in 20 years.”

— Kelly Brennan, Cape May Court House

“If Atlantic City has them, I will be out to see them!”

— Jennifer Herber, Brigantine

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