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Concerns about safety lead to Fourth of July cancellations in Newton County
Annual events fall victim to officials' worries about spread of COVID-19
Stars and Stripes Fest
File photo | The Covington News

A fireworks display is planned for this weekend in one Newton County city but traditional Fourth of July events elsewhere have been postponed or canceled in response to safety concerns around the coronavirus pandemic.

Officials in Covington, Oxford and Porterdale decided to postpone or cancel popular holiday events because of their concerns about transmission of the disease among expected crowds.

On Saturday, June 27, one event in Social Circle will allow people to attend but a popular annual fundraiser in Porterdale will only be accessible on Facebook.

The city of Social Circle is set to host a fireworks display at 9:30 p.m. at Stephens Park Field in the northeast Newton County city. 

Attendees are encouraged to bring blankets, chairs and their own picnic dinners and can begin filing in to the event site at 7:30 p.m. However, no food vendors or live entertainment are planned and social distancing will be encouraged, according to city downtown director Amber McKibben.

Those who do not want to travel to Stephens Park Field can watch the show from South Walton parking lots, downtown Social Circle, Freshway supermarket and Blue Willow, according to information on the city Facebook page.

For more information, visit the city’s Facebook page @cityofsocialcirclegeorgia.

Another tradition, the Boys & Girls Clubs of North Central Georgia’s annual Duck Derby, is scheduled to be done without an audience lining the banks of the Yellow River in Porterdale.

The fundraiser for the Boys & Girls Clubs is set for Saturday, June 27, at 9 a.m. and can be seen live on the club’s Facebook page at @BGCNCG.

It will feature 6,000 rubber ducks — “adopted” by donors — which are released on the Yellow River. The winning entry will receive a $10,000 grand prize. 

The Porterdale city government chose not to plan a fireworks show for this year.

In a statement, Mayor Arline Chapman and Interim City Manager Robert Witcher said, “Due to the public health and safety recommendations issued by the CDC concerning COVID-19, the city of Porterdale will not be hosting an Independence fireworks display in 2020. 

“Since March 26, when the city issued a Shelter in Place Ordinance and Resolution, and following all special orders issued from the governor’s office, the safety and health of residents and visitors has been of utmost concern for the city. 

“With the recent up rise in cases, it is important to insure that every opportunity is taken to prevent the transmission of COVID-19. We wish our citizens a safe and happy Fourth of July and to celebrate freedom and peace this Independence Day.”

Officials in the city of Oxford also canceled an annual tradition because of concerns about the safety of attendees attending a live event during the ongoing pandemic.

The city of Oxford and the Oxford Lions Club in past years hosted a morning parade on July 4 followed by an event featuring food vendors and live entertainment at the historic Old Church on Wesley Street.

However, the city council “out of an abundance of caution” opted to cancel the annual event, said City Manager Matthew Pepper.

Covington City Council voted in May to reschedule the annual Stars and Stripes Fest and its popular fireworks show to Labor Day weekend.

The council voted to postpone the event to Sept. 6 amid concerns about the safety of the event during the pandemic because of the large crowds that typically gather to watch it.

The Stars and Stripes Fest typically includes food vendors, live music and a large-scale fireworks show that attracts crowds estimated at up to 50,000 to the area around the Covington Square on July 4.

Council members reportedly decided to reschedule the event to Sept. 6 because it would lessen the impact on some businesses that close on Sundays.