The pandemic may have forced local communities to change their Independence Day plans, but the July Fourth weekend will still give people across the Hudson Valley opportunities to celebrate.
In lieu of municipal fireworks displays, an “Independence Weekend Salute” to essential workers will be held on Saturday, July 4 over the TechCity complex in the Town of Ulster. During a Facebook Live streamed announcement on Thursday, June 25, Ulster County executive Pat Ryan detailed plans for the drive-in fireworks display, which will allow revelers inside or beside their cars to watch in a responsible socially distanced way. Parking lots at TechCity will be open beginning at 7:30 p.m. on July 4 with spaces available on a first-come, first served basis. Fireworks will begin at dusk.
“I think for a lot of us, it’s going to just be a chance to finally have some sense of normalcy to celebrate this holiday, to have a way to honor those that we thank every day in our updates, that we feel so much gratitude to, and just to kind of feel good and celebrate, which I know we’re all looking forward to,” said Ryan.
Ulster supervisor Jim Quigley said is very happy to see his town host this year’s Fourth of July fireworks celebration. “After these difficult months, it will be a wonderful and welcome celebration,” he said. “The selection of he TechCity property for the event is another indication of county executive Ryan‘s commitment the repurposing the property, and we look forward to continuing to work with him to find even greater uses for the site.”
Parades are traditionally a huge part of the Independence Day experience.
Parades will look significantly different this year, as municipalities across Ulster County will hold their own motorcades honoring Independence Day and essential workers on Sunday, July 5. In an effort to ensure crowds don’t move from one town’s motorcade to another throughout the day, each will be held at roughly the same time.
Kingston mayor Steve Noble said the changes were necessary to ensure safety while the pandemic is still active. “We were disappointed that we were not able to have July Fourth fireworks,” he said. “It’s a favorite annual community celebration that brings in hundreds of revelers, but for that reason, we cannot safely hold the event. Instead, we are encouraging folks to spend the Fourth of July with their loved ones and visit local businesses that have re-opened.” The motorcade was an opportunity to safely celebrate the holiday.
Kingston’s motorcade will be led by the Kingston fire and police departments. Decorated vehicles encouraged. The lineup will begin in the Dietz Stadium parking lot on July 5at 3:30 p.m., with the motorcade getting underway at 4 p.m. and winding through the city.
The big annual fireworks displays in Saugerties were canceled this year due to concerns about the potential spread of the coronavirus in the large crowds drawn to the fireworks show at the Cantine Veterans Memorial Complex.“There will not be any fireworks in Saugerties,” said Saugerties buildings superintendent Greg Chorvas. “The county strongly discouraged fireworks, and we don’t want to have huge gatherings.”
Saugerties will also hold a motorcade replacing its annual Independence Day parade through the village. Instead, the motorcade will begin in the village and will drive through Glasco, Mt. Marion, Centerville-Cedar Grove, Malden-on-Hudson, and back into the village. According to Chorvas, the motorcade will pass three of the four elementary schools in the district.
Those planning to enjoy the motorcade should be aware that it won’t be the same as the regular July Fourth parade. “It’s going to be drastically different,” said Chorvas. “There’s so many drastically different things in our world today. Obviously, it will be strictly vehicles. We are encouraging everyone that if they do gather to social distance.
“There will be no floats,” Chorvas said. “Nobody can ride in the back of a pickup truck. Ray Mayone puts his horse-drawn wagon in each year, and that’s not going to take place. We can’t have tractors, so the tractor club that brings the antique tractors, that’s not going to occur. If the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts want to participate, they would have to be in vehicles.”
New Paltz and Woodstock
In New Paltz, a motorcade devoted to Independence Day, first responders and essential workers will run from Fire Station No. 1 at 25 Plattekill Avenue to Fire Station No. 2 at Henry Dubois Drive and North Putt Corners Road beginning at 3 p.m. on Sunday, July 5. “Folks are welcome to decorate their cars and join along,” said Kathy Preston, assistant to town supervisor Neil Bettez. “Hopefully we’ll have people out along the route to cheer them on.”
Not all municipalities will hold motorcades over the weekend. In Woodstock,town supervisor Bill McKenna said Independence Day weekend will provide first responders with an opportunity to have a much-needed break.
“They’ve been stretched pretty thin,” McKenna said. “They’ve been out and about, and I think on the Fourth they’re going to stay home and relax and have little barbecues.”