Most metro Atlanta fireworks displays were canceled this weekend because of fears that the coronavirus could spread, but some cities went forward with their celebrations.
Woodstock, Cumming and Carrollton all hosted their annual events, with guidelines in place about social distancing.
Channel 2′s Matt Johnson was in Woodstock, where people gathered around their cars hours before the big show. Some people even gathered as early as 9 a.m. so they could social distance.
“It’s wide open and you can stay in your car and keep the distance you need to keep from the people,“ resident Howard Hoover said. “We’ve got a good set up here we’ve got lots of grass, and open area where we can set some chairs out and not be right on top of each other.”
In Cumming, the Thomas Mashburn Steam Engine Parade rolled through the streets, where many people lined up in patriotic costumes. Still, not everybody was wearing a mask or staying six feet apart.
One woman told Johnson she’s glad the event wasn’t canceled.
“We are just going to try to make the best of it is what we are going to try to do,” she said. “And enjoy our freedom and try to stay healthy.”
Carrollton’s fireworks display kicks off at 8:30 p.m., but with higher altitude fireworks that can be seen at a farther distance.
On Friday, Channel 2′s Tyisha Fernandes was in Woodstock, where residents she talked to said they did plan to come out to festivities.
On most Independence Days in Woodstock, the city hosts a freedom run, a parade, a festival and a fireworks show. Due to COVID-19, everything has been canceled except the fireworks show.
Residents told Fernandes that it’s an event where people sit outside near their cars with their families and watch the show.
“Viewers can spread out all across the city,” Woodstock Assistant City Manager Coty Thigpen said. “There are many large parking lots all along Highway 92 where it is very easy to park your car and watch the show from various points throughout the city.”
Residents said that even in previous years, people who watch the fireworks from the square normally don't stand close together, so it will be easy to practice social distancing this year.
Jarvis Sturdivant was happy to hear that officials didn't cancel everything.
“Especially during this time when you don’t get to come out side and do things, you still need the opportunity to enjoy life to enjoy life;” Sturdivant said.
Some people think city officials should have canceled all the events because of the coronavirus, and for another reason.
" I think with everything going on I wouldn’t – I think everything is out of place,” one woman said. “Unity is not what it needs to be, and that’s what the red, white and blue is supposed to stand for.”
City officials are encouraging people to follow CDC guidelines when they are out in public like wearing a mask and washing your hands often.
Woodstock isn’t alone in going forward with the celebrations. Cumming, Carrollton and Canton will also hold their annual 4th festivities.
Other celebrations postponed or go virtual:
Channel 2 Investigative Reporter Justin Gray found that some metro Atlanta cities are hosting virtual celebrations.
But for many metro Atlantans, this year, the 4th of July will be very different. It is usually a very busy day for Decatur Retiree Steve Vogel.
It starts before dawn so Steve can help with radio communication for the Peachtree Road Race. After a nap, he’s volunteering for Decatur’s parade and fireworks.
“We help the police and fire with crowd control and traffic control, things like that,” Vogel said.
This year, his dry erase board where he keeps track of his volunteering commitments looks different.
“You can see it has absolutely nothing on it,” Vogel said.
This year’s Peachtree Road race is postponed until Thanksgiving, and the city of Decatur’s parade and fireworks are canceled along with the big Centennial Olympic Park fireworks show.
Lilburn’s mayor, Tim Dunn, said he made the tough decision to postpone his city’s fireworks display, where 10 - 12 thousand people were expected.
“We couldn’t figure out how to make social distancing work, you know, with that kind of crowd,” Dunn said.
But he said they’re hoping to reschedule hopefully for September or October.
“One reason here is a monetary reason for doing it,” Dunn said. “We will lose about a $3,000 deposit if we don’t have it during the calendar year.”
The City of East Point canceled its fireworks show, but is offering a free virtual show.
“They can hold their device up to the sky, and they’ll see a virtual fireworks celebration or show using augmented reality,” East Point Public Information officer Shannon Wiggins said. “The show is gonna last about 10 to 12 minutes long.”
All you have to do is download the free Total AR app to your tablet or smartphone to see fireworks between 9 p.m. and midnight on July 4.
East Point is also having a socially-distanced caravan parade to raise awareness about the 2020 census.
“Decorate your cars, create signs and make some noise,” Wiggins said. “We’re spreading the word and informing members of the community about the 2020 census and why they need to be counted.”
The City of Tucker set off fireworks Friday night, but this year, instead of crowds gathering on Main Street, residents watched a live, virtual show.
“We figured the best seat in the house is going to literally be in your house on the couch, where you can watch fireworks going off over Tucker’s Main Street,” Communications Director Matt Holmes said.
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