The fireworks display at Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta on Thursday, July 4, 2019. The fireworks show, part of the annual Fourth of July celebration, will not happen this year, but there are ways to enjoy a virtual display. Christina Matacotta/Christina.Matacotta@ajc.com
Photo: For the AJC
Photo: For the AJC

Ways to keep the fun in the Fourth of July

A typical Fourth of July holiday is spent with friends and family decked out in red, white and blue while a smorgasbord of meat sizzles on the grill. On the day America celebrates freedom, everyone awaits the firework.

However, Independence Day will look a lot different this year as coronavirus cases continue throughout the Deep South and social distancing measures have led to the cancellation or postponement of popular events.

»»Listen to our chat with Kimeko McCoy about these events on the accessAtlanta podcast:

In fact, one of Atlanta’s premiere Fourth of July events, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Peachtree Road Race, has been postponed due to the pandemic. It is the first time the road race will be run on a day other than July 4 since its kickoff in 1970.

But before throwing in the star-spangled towel, consider these social-distancing friendly Independence Day ideas to help you celebrate at home.

The Bert Show host Bert Weiss (left), and co-host Kristin Klingshirn (right), pose with a Bert’s Big Adventure child during a family welcome night event at the Renaissance Concourse Atlanta Airport Hotel in 2019. The nonprofit is sponsoring Your Space Virtual Race on July 4. Contributed by Bert’s Big Adventure.
Photo: For the AJC

Your Space Virtual Race

With many still adhering to social distancing guidelines, participating in a marathon may seem impossible. Luckily, the team at Bert’s Big Adventure has put together the Your Space Virtual Race to allow participants to compete while social distancing. Registrants can select their own challenge. Whether they want to complete one mile, a 5k or 10k, the choice (and the pace they go) is up to them. Once registered, participants are invited to join a private Facebook group to share workouts, training methods, challenges and more. To make the experience more like a traditional marathon, sign up comes with a printable race bib and runner’s certificate.

This is the nonprofit’s second Your Space Virtual Race. The first marathon was held in May, raising $12,000. It left participants asking for another race, according to Molly Darby, executive director at Bert’s Big Adventure.

“It’s interesting how this race has turned into less of an exercise-related event and more of a community-based event,” Darby said. “And that’s really what Bert’s Big Adventure focuses on.”

Bert’s Big Adventure Your Space Virtual Race takes place on July 4, 2020. Contributed by Bert’s Big Adventure.
Photo: For the AJC

With less than a week until the race and a goal of $20,000, more than 400 participants have registered for the Fourth of July event.

The new virtual event has been an eye-opener for Darby and the Bert’s Big Adventure team.

“People really want to connect. People are really missing that motivation, that encouragement that you might typically get if you’re chatting with coworkers in the office or if you’re being social with friends and family,” she said.

Bert’s Big Adventure was founded in 2002 by Bert Weiss of Q99.7’s the Bert Show. The nonprofit organization provides an annual trip to Walt Disney World for children with chronic and terminal illnesses and their families. Funds raised through the Your Space Virtual Race will go to the annual trip and other Bert’s Big Adventure programs.

For more information, go to bertsbigadventure.org.

Show your spirit in Marietta

The city of Marietta will not be celebrating Independence Day with the Let Freedom Ring Parade, festivities on the Square or the fireworks show this year. Instead, the city is celebrating the holiday virtually. And while the decision to cancel all events scheduled for the holiday was not easy for Marietta city staff, Mayor Steve Tumlin will try to keep spirits high with the inaugural Mayor’s Patriotic Decorating contest.

The contest invites participants to decorate their homes, neighborhoods, businesses and even their pets in celebration of the holiday.

According to the city website, participants until 5 p.m. June 30 to submit pictures of their work with winners to be announced on Thursday via the city’s Facebook account.

Lindsey Wiles serves as Marietta’s communications and governmental relations manager and said the city hopes to continue the decorating contest post-coronavirus alongside traditional Fourth of July events.

“While we will miss seeing everyone on the Square, we are excited about our patriotic decoration contest and the most patriotic pet contest,” Wiles said via email.

Find more information about the decorating contest at mariettaga.gov.

Enjoy fireworks from the comfort of your home

If you live near Woodstock, you’re in luck. While the city has canceled its holiday parade and Freedom Run, the annual firework show is still on. To ensure social distancing measures, consider watching the light show from the comfort of your home or yard. An alternative option is tuning in to a televised event like the Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks show or find a good YouTube video with fireworks from years past.

If the annual fireworks show is canceled in your community, you can still celebrate. Put on your mask and head to your local firework stand to look for firecrackers, smoke bombs, bottle rockets and more. Looking for something more kid-friendly? Try sparklers or pop pops. As you celebrate the occasion, be mindful that Georgia allows fireworks until 11:59 p.m. on July 4.

Get the neighborhood together for a drive-by parade

To celebrate with your community, call up your neighbors and plan a Fourth of July drive-by parade with music, decorated signs and floats. To allow for social distancing, have one house per car while observers stand safely back from the street.

If you live in the Cobb County area, you can see Powder Springs elected officials, police officers and other city employees winding through your neighborhood in the Fourth of July drive-by parade.

Find more information at cityofpowdersprings.org.

Lin-Manuel Miranda and the cast of “Hamilton” perform at the Tony Awards in New York in 2016. Beginning July 3, you’ll be able to see the original Broadway cast of “Hamilton” perform the musical smash from the comfort of home on Disney+. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)
Photo: For the AJC

Have a movie marathon

Celebrate the Fourth of July from the couch with a movie marathon. To start, tune in to the award-winning Broadway play “Hamilton,” which comes to Disney+ on July 3. Also premiering on July 3 is the documentary “John Lewis: Good Trouble,” which chronicles the life of the legendary civil rights activist and member of Congress. You can watch through your cable provider or find other ways to watch at home at johnlewisgoodtrouble.com.

If you’re a Netflix subscriber, you can invite friends and family to share your Netflix with you via the Netflix Party Google Chrome extension. Simply find what you want to watch, copy the Netflix Party link, send it to friends and enjoy the show.

Congressman John Lewis on the set of “John Lewis: Good Trouble,” a new documentary about his life. Lewis said he had never seen some of the footage that was uncovered.
Photo: For the AJC

Learn some history with the National Archives

For a more educational holiday experience, the National Archives is hosting its inaugural virtual Fourth of July celebration. The celebration includes a discussion around the Revolution and the important role women played, a special reading ceremony and a kid’s discussion with children’s author Brad Meltzer and illustrator Chris Eliopoulos.

For more information, go to archivesjuly4.org.

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