Lighting up the 4th
Marshall, Currie still holding fireworks displays
MARSHALL — Marshall’s Fourth of July celebrations have weathered some storms in the past, from extreme rain to debris cleanup from windstorms in 2011.
But COVID-19 presented some brand new challenges, said Marshall Community Services Director Scott VanDerMillen.
“I think it’s going to be different than anything we’ve done before,” he said.
This year, Marshall will have fireworks, but no other city events, at Independence Park on Saturday night.
“We’re trying to do whatever we can, without hosting an event where people don’t have the ability to social distance,” VanDerMillen said. A lot of Marshall’s July 4 traditions, from the free kite-flying festival to community band performances, would draw crowds of people to the park. The fireworks, on the other hand, can be seen from a distance, which makes it easier for people to spread out.
VanDerMillen said discussions about the Fourth of July celebrations had been going on since about mid-April, and took changing COVID-19 guidelines into account.
The city, in partnership with the Marshall Hy-Vee, will be hosting the annual fireworks display at 10:15 p.m. The show will last about 25 minutes, VanDerMillen said.
The city is encouraging spectators to keep a distance of 6 feet from people outside their family units as they watch the fireworks, or watch from their own vehicles. Parking should be on hard or gravel surfaces only. People are also encouraged to wear cloth face coverings as feasible.
For people who would rather not go out, the city of Marshall will also be hosting a Facebook Live event to view the fireworks. The event will go live at 10:15 p.m. Saturday.
While a lot has changed, Marshall community organizers hope to give area residents a chance to have some fun on the Fourth.
“I think any time you can celebrate something, it makes people feel good and empowers our community,” VanDerMillen said.
Communities around southwest Minnesota have had to make decisions this year on how — or if — to hold Independence Day events or fireworks. In the Granite Falls area, Prairie’s Edge Casino canceled Fourth of July events because of COVID-19 concerns.
However, a few area communities have been finding ways to change their festivities.
In Currie, the Fourth of July street dance was postponed, but the fireworks and other community events are still going on Saturday.
Organizers have made adaptations to a community picnic, volleyball tournament and beanbag tournament to try and prevent the spread of COVID-19, said Lexi Gervais.
“We wanted to try and do something to keep the tradition going,” Gervais said.
The July 4 picnic will still start serving at 11 a.m., but Gervais said organizers will be serving the food, and tables will be moved out of the picnic shelters to help encourage people to social distance.
“We are going to have picnic tables throughout the entire park,” she said. To-go boxes will also be available.
Gervais said organizers of the volleyball and beanbag tournaments will be taking extra precautions to make sure equipment is clean and sanitized. Participants in the beanbag tournament will need to bring their own beanbags.
Fireworks sponsored by the Town and Country Boosters and the Currie Fire Department will start at dusk on Saturday.
Other area communities have also found ways to keep their celebrations going this weekend. In Hendricks, the annual community picnic and Community Spirit award presentation were canceled, but the city said a display of flags to honor area veterans will still be set up on July 3.
In Ruthton, the Buffalo Ridge Civic Organization canceled its traditional Fourth of July celebrations, but organizers came up with a range of activities that could be done without crowds instead. The weekend’s events include yard decorating and patriotic chalk drawing contests, a virtual 5K run, and a kids’ fishing contest where participants race to post pictures of their catch.