This Fourth of July holiday weekend is unlike any other celebration in any other year. Ever. As Americans socially distance and shelter at home to help stop the spread of COVID-19, friends, neighbors and families are getting innovative on how to get into the patriotic spirit.
Fireworks at home
Firework sellers across the USA are reporting record sales in 2020 with jumps of 200-300% as thousands of large organized firework displays have been canceled. Julie Heckman, president of the American Pyrotechnics Association says consumer sales are off the hook, and 2020 will be 'an all-time high'.
Steve Houser, National Fireworks Association president and Red Rhino Fireworks owner, told CNBC that the industry plans to get 80% to 90% of revenue for the year in one to two weeks prior to the Fourth of July. However, this year, due to the absence of larger firework displays, people are resorting to at-home fireworks and sales have been up in cities across the USA since May.
The Boston Police Department reported a 2300% increase in calls about fireworks - which are illegal in Massachusetts - over last year. And the New York Times reported that the 311 system received 1737 complaints about fireworks in the first half of June - 80 times higher than last year. Fireworks are also illegal in NYC.
If you do plan a home fireworks event this year, experts recommend keeping a fire extinguisher or water hose nearby. The most common fireworks injuries are to the face, eyes, hands and fingers. Never allow children to light fireworks, keep detonation at least 200 ft away from everything and don't forget to keep your pets safe and indoors this holiday weekend.
Stream celebrations online
Being stuck at home doesn't mean you have to miss out entirely on the celebrations. Many cities all over the USA will still host firework celebrations and you can stream them from the comfort of your home.
Macy's famous Fourth of July Fireworks are live on July 4 at 8/7c on NBC and while live performances won't be happening on the main stage this year, John Legend, The Black-Eyed Peas and Tim McGraw will all be turning up on the livestream to celebrate. Macy's have also been hosting smaller firework displays all this week in the five boroughs of NYC.
In Washington DC, A Capitol Fourth celebration is taking place at 8/7c on PBS and on Facebook and YouTube. It will be virtually hosted by Vanessa Williams and John Stamos with performances by Patti LaBelle, The Temptations and more.
Nashville's Music City, like many cities countrywide, has had to cancel its Independence day celebrations, but the annual event is being replaced with a televised concert and music display. 'Let Freedom Sing', a one-hour concert honoring health care heroes, first responders and frontline workers with music from John Hiatt, Lilly Hiatt, Keb' Mo' and Tenille Townes will be aired on NewsChannel 5 at 9pm CT and will stream online via their website.
Willie Nelson's annual 4th of July Picnic will be an all-day streaming event this year with appearances from a range of stars at Nelson's Luck, Texas ranch. Among those performing with Nelson and family will be Lyle Lovett, Sheryl Crow, Steve Earle, Ziggy Marley, Charley Crockett, Shakey Graves and many more. Tickets can be purchased from www.williepicnic.com
Firing up the BBQ to celebrate Independence Day is as evocative of American life as mom and apple pie. And with more Americans getting together at home this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued some guidelines for staying safe. The agency recommends staying outside if possible and if that's not possible, then use a well-ventilated indoor space. To protect communities from the virus spread, it is recommended to limit the number of guests you invite, all wear cloth masks and socially distance by sitting at tables and chairs placed six feet apart.
Washing and sanitizing of hands should take place before and after eating and all commonly touched surfaces should be sanitized regularly. In relation to food, guests should bring their own plates, cups, napkins, utensils and just one person should be in charge of grilling to prevent multiple people from handling food or utensils. Buffets are out and the CDC also recommends keeping details of the guests in case you need to contact trace them in future.
Stay safe and Happy Fourth of July!
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