By Rick Palsgrove
The Fourth of July in Groveport – normally a day of boisterous celebrations, a festive parade, and spectacular fireworks – was a subdued holiday this year after city officials cancelled the day’s traditional events because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The town was eerily quiet on this steamy and hot Fourth of July, except for the occasional crackle and bang of backyard fireworks being set off around town.
Normally by the morning of Independence Day people would begin setting out lawn chairs along Main Street to stake out their spots for the parade. By the evening of the Fourth of July each year the town would be filled with people coming to see the fireworks display. Not this year. The streets were empty and ghostly silent throughout the day.
One parade float did appear at the corner of College and Main streets as the city parked its traditional float, that usually carries the mayor and council members in the parade, at that site. A sign on the empty float read, “We will see you in 2021. Happy 4th of July!’
Though there was no traditional parade, festival, or fireworks in Groveport, the town’s residents still celebrated the nation’s independence in their own ways. People gathered in small groups of family and friends for backyard parties and cookouts. It was clear no virus could keep Americans from celebrating the nation’s birth.
“We miss the fireworks because Groveport always has a magnificent display,” said Groveport resident Steven Thomson at a small gathering his family hosted. “We are still going to celebrate our American heritage and honor our great nation.”
At another small backyard gathering, Groveport resident Nicole Prestifilippo said about the cancelled Independence Day festivities, “It’s sad for the kids. The Fourth of July is my kids absolute favorite holiday. People come from all over to celebrate in Groveport on the Fourth. It’s a great community.”
Another backyard party was held at the nearby Eberst home
“It’s not as much fun this year,” said Groveport resident Joe Eberst as he played a game of cornhole with friends. “We miss the parade and fireworks. It’s all smaller this year. We’ll make the best of it.”
A large American flag, accompanied by an array of smaller flags, decorated the front of the Campbell home on Main Street.
“I put the large flag out every Fourth, but this year we added a ton of flags in our yard,” said Matt Campbell. “I feel like since there were no standard celebrations, (parade, food, fireworks) that not as many people decorated their houses this year. I wanted any veteran who drove by to know that we appreciate the sacrifices they made to achieve the freedoms we enjoy. A truck pulled up out front this morning while I was on the porch and a man said, ‘Wow, those flags look fantastic, thanks for putting them up, God Bless America!’ We had lots of honking and waving today.”
As for the subdued nature of the Fourth, Campbell said, “I saw lots of people hanging out at home versus walking to a food vendor or going to Heritage Park and, while I miss the parade and fireworks, it was nice not having so much traffic on Main Street.”
City officials have said they hope to shoot off the fireworks, originally planned for the Fourth of July, on the evening of Apple Butter Day on Oct. 10. As of this date, Apple Butter Day has not been cancelled because of the coronavirus.
July 4, 2020 marked 244 years since the United States declared its independence from Great Britain. A lot of things have happened in 2020 that make it a tough year for everyone, but it is good to
know that, in spite of the nation’s difficulties, its citizens still take time to note the country’s birth and to carry on.