Fourth of July weekend in the Queen City

Fourth of July weekend in the Queen City

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read July 2020Independence Day traditionally marks the peak of summer travel, events and large gatherings. This year, however, Fourth of July festivities have been significantly reduced or moved to the digital landscape for families to enjoy from the comfort and safety of their homes due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Among the cancellations is The Charlotte Knights’ annual fireworks show over Independence Day weekend. However, not all celebrations have been dampened by the virus. From interactive conversations to races and, of course, fireworks, the Queen City will feature a few in-person events mixed with a large offering of virtual spectacles that will surely foster the patriotic spirit in these uncertain times. Here is our pick of the different in-person and virtual events happening over the Indepence Day weekend. 

Fourth of July Celebration at U.S. National Whitewater Center 

Described as a “summer classic,” the U.S National Whitewater Center will feature a two-day Fourth of July Celebration with plenty of opportunities to enjoy the festivities and keep socially distant. The festival will feature live music, various yoga practices, Battle Royale SUP Sprint, and two days of fireworks overlooking the world’s largest man-made whitewater river, the center wrote on its website. The celebration is free to attend, open to the public, and does not require tickets.

To learn more, visit: https://usnwc.org/relax/festivals/fourth-of-july-celebration/

Gastonia Grizzlies Baseball Game and Fireworks Show

Those wishing to enjoy nine innings of baseball, hot dogs and fireworks can head over to the City of Gastonia on Friday, July 3, for a night of Independence Day celebrations. Dubbed as the “the best fireworks in town at the greatest show in town,” the event is a great place to stretch your legs over the Fourth of July weekend. 

To learn more, visit: https://gastoniagrizzlies.com/schedule/

Park National Bank American 4 Miler

Those wishing to maintain their fitness routine before tackling the celebratory burgers, hotdogs and chips customary of Fourth of July celebrations can enjoy an in-person or virtual 4-mile race. The Park National Bank American 4 Miler is an on-site or virtual run on Friday, July 3 that sets the tone for the rest of the Independence Day weekend. The on-site race will conclude with live music, but there will be no in-person awards ceremony, according to organizers. The cost ranges from $24-$27 and there will be no race-day registration.

To learn more,  visit: https://runsignup.com/Race/NC/Charlotte/American4MilerpresentedbyFamousToastery

Independence Day at the Charlotte Museum of History 

For history buffs and parents looking for daily learning activities, The Charlotte Museum of History will host virtual Independence Day festivities starting June 29 through July 4. The museum’s website offers new resources ready to teach and entertain its audience each day throughout the Independence weekend. Activities are free of charge but registration is needed. 

To learn more,  visit: https://charlottemuseum.org/digital/

Virtual Family Dinner

Use this holiday break to bring the family together virtually. Much like work video calls, schedule a family video call at dinner time to unite family members scattered by social distance and travel restrictions. Though it may be hard to pass the potato salad across a video conference call, it is easy to enjoy a virtual family dinner filled with laughs and smiles. Food always brings people together, use this Independence Day to recreate the Fourth of July weekend you had in mind at the start of 2020.

How South Jersey is celebrating the 4th of July during the pandemic

How South Jersey is celebrating the 4th of July during the pandemic

By: Beatrice Silva 

2 min read – Celebrating Independence Day is a big deal for most Americans. The Fourth of July officially became a national holiday in 1870. Then in 1941, a provision was expanded, making it a paid day off for all federal employees. People across the nation celebrate by setting off fireworks, watching parades, and having casual BBQs with their friends and family. This year however, festivities are going to look a lot different due to the constantly evolving COVID-19 virus. 

South Jersey skies will sparkle slightly less than they have in previous years, as most towns have canceled their usual spectacles. However, that doesn’t mean the holiday is completely up in smoke. There are still quite a few CDC-regulated activities you can enjoy that will keep you safe while satisfying your patriotic urges. Invest: South Jersey explores five of the top things to do this Fourth of July weekend during a pandemic. 

Middle Township Fireworks 

Mayor Tim Donohue let freedom ring when he decided to reverse his decision to cancel this year’s fireworks display. The town’s annual celebration will be held at dusk on Saturday, July 4 and gates will open one hour before start time. People are encouraged to wear masks and practice social distancing. The fireworks will also be streamed on the Middle Township Facebook page for anyone who wants to enjoy the festivities from the comfort of their home. 

For more information visit: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10217619152931637&set=a.1465495198362&type=3

Burlington County Virtual Contests 

Bordentown Township, Medford and Riverton have all canceled their fireworks celebrations. However, county officials are still encouraging their residents to hold family picnics on their lawns or driveways at 4 p.m. on the Fourth of July. They hope these festivities will help unite their community while still practicing safe social distancing. Officials also announced that they will be holding virtual house decorating, patriotic costumes and pet pageant contests. Contestants are asked to submit photographs of their entries. The winners will be announced on riverton4thofjuly.com, Facebook, and Instagram. 

For more information visit: https://www.riverton4thofjuly.com/covid

Ocean Gate 4th of July Parade

On June 20, Ocean Gate borough took to Facebook to announce that it will still be hosting its annual July Parade. Registration for the parade opens at 8 a.m. on July 4, at Adrian Hall. Try to come early because only a limited number of people will be allowed into the building at one time. The July Parade begins at 10 a.m. on Ocean Gate Avenue. To encourage social distancing, the parade route will be extended this year.

For more information visit: https://www.jerseyfamilyfun.com/event/independence-day-parade-oceangate/

North Wildwoods Family Parade, Kite-Flying Competition and more 

A few towns in Cape May County have canceled their celebrations but not Wildwoods. Independence Day Family Parade will begin at 9 a.m. at 9th and Atlantic Avenue in North Wildwoods. A barbeque will then be held from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. for a minimum donation of $8. Fourth of July fireworks will be held on the beach at Rio Grande Avenue. Since the fireworks can be viewed from almost anywhere on the Wildwoods Boardwalk, visitors have been encouraged to enjoy the show from a distance. Anyone who is participating in the celebrations is required to follow CDC regulations. 

For more information visit: https://wildwoodsnj.com/events-calendar/?month=7-2020

Virtual Fourth of July Festivities

Celebrating a holiday from the comfort of your home has its perks, especially during these unprecedented times. For starters, you won’t have to worry about parking or overpriced drinks if you are hosting a small gathering at your house. Also, a majority of cities across the country are streaming their festivities live so anyone can join the fun no matter where you are. For example, viewers will be able to watch Houston’s “Shell Freedom Over Texas” at 8 p.m. Eastern on ABC12.com. The show will include performances by the Houston Symphony and country singer Pat Green. To make your at-home experience even more thrilling, try setting off a few fireworks from your backyard or get creative and decorate your front porch. We’re sure the neighborhood will enjoy your efforts as well.  

Top 5 Tourism Drivers for The Palm Beaches

Top 5 Tourism Drivers for The Palm Beaches

By Max Crampton-Thomas

4 min read October 2019 —  With more than 8 million visitors to Palm Beach County in 2018, it’s no secret that tourism is the driving force behind the economy in The Palm Beaches. Last year, these visitors generated $7.4 billion in economic impact and are the reason for over 70,000 tourism jobs. While the appeal of a relaxing beach vacation may seem like the obvious tourist magnet, there are so many different and unique facets of the county that drive the economic behemoth that is the tourism sector. Here is the Invest: Top 5 tourism drivers for The Palm Beaches

BEACHES

Palm Beach County is bordered by 47 miles of Atlantic coastline that offer some of the state’s most attractive beaches. These include Boynton Beach Ocean Park, Coral Cove Park, Juno Beach Park and many more, with a large portion of these beaches offering resort amenities and marine activities. The Palm Beach County coastline was also nicknamed Florida’s Gold Coast after gold was recovered from Spanish galleons that sank off its shores. A fitting nickname for beaches that are like gold to the Florida economy. Invest: spoke with Jorge Pesquera, president and CEO of Discover The Palm Beaches, who touched on the importance of the beaches to the tourism industry in the county. “Leisure remains the most crucial tourism driver for The Palm Beaches, with meetings and conventions continuing to gain momentum. Within the leisure tourism market, our beaches are the biggest draw for not only those seeking to relax and rejuvenate, but also those interested in activities such as boating, fishing, scuba diving, kayaking and paddleboarding,” Pesquera told Invest:. 

You can learn more about the county’s best beaches here: https://www.thepalmbeaches.com/blogs/best-beaches-are-palm-beaches

ARTS & CULTURE

Home to cultural institutions like the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, The Palm Beaches are an arts and culture hub that drives many cultural travelers to the area. Invest: discussed with Judith Mitchell, CEO for the Kravis Center, how this increased interest from out-of-town visitors has positively affected her business as well as those in the surrounding area. “Our strong programming and marketing teams ensure that we continue to bring the best of Broadway and other diverse performances that attract audiences from outside the state and from cities north and south of the Center. In 2018-2019, the Center saw an increase in out-of-county audience members by nearly 50%. This also has a positive economic impact on the surrounding hotels, restaurants and shops as these nonresident guests choose to dine, shop and stay overnight before or after attending a performance.” 

For more on the various arts and culture destinations in the county, visit: https://www.palmbeachculture.com/

SPORTS

For an area that doesn’t have a major professional sports franchise, the county’s tourism market has a strong driver in the sports tourism market. It helps that among Palm Beach County’s various monikers, one of the titles held most proudly is “The Golf Capital of Florida,” boasting more than 150 public and private golf courses. It also doesn’t hurt that Major League Baseball teams, namely the Houston Astros, Washington Nationals, Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals, call Palm Beach County their home during spring training. For those who prefer alternative sports, The Palm Beaches are also the location of polo and equestrian events, including a variety of International Polo Club tournaments. 

Interested in learning more about sports offerings in The Palm Beaches? Visit: https://www.palmbeachsports.com/

ECO-TOURISM

When a county boasts 110 parks and recreation facilities paired with 35 natural areas that make up more than 31,000 acres of environmentally sensitive lands, it is bound to attract eco-tourists. This form of tourism may seem obscure from an outside perspective, but it not only can provide visitors with a memorable experience, it also provides health benefits as well. Invest: recently sat down with Deborah Drum, department director of Palm Beach County Environmental Resources Management, who spoke to this tourism driver and its benefits. “We have conducted economic studies of our natural areas. We have over 300,000 visitors just to the natural areas in our county. These are remote areas that offer more passive types of recreation, including hiking, fishing or bird-watching. We have done a study with the University of Florida on this passive connection and we have determined that these visitors are coming for that purpose. There have also been a number of studies about the connection between mental health and time spent in natural areas or spent outside. There is a positive relationship between the reduction in mental health issues with more time spent out in nature,” Drum explained. 

Check out more on Palm Beach County’s Natural Areas Map: http://discover.pbcgov.org/erm/Pages/Natural-Areas-Map.aspx

MEETINGS & CONVENTIONS

There is a direct correlation between the increase in business tourism to The Palm Beaches and the economic and business growth that the county is enjoying. The beneficiaries from this driver of tourism are a wide range of business types, from hotels to restaurants and even retail. Discover The Palm Beaches’ Pesquera highlighted just how significant this is to the tourism market. “On the meetings front, we’ve seen a 567-percent increase over the last several years in groups booked at the Palm Beach County Convention Center. Unlike our good friends in Miami and Fort Lauderdale — where there is a clear and established epicenter of tourism activity — The Palm Beaches are truly a collection of midsize to small cities and towns that altogether deliver an exceptional vacation or meeting experience,” Pesquera told Invest:.

For more on this and the tourism industry in Palm Beach County, visit: 

www.thepalmbeaches.com/

How Broward is Solving its Transportation Troubles

How Broward is Solving its Transportation Troubles

By Max Crampton-Thomas

4 min read October 2019 —  For over a century, the car has been America’s top transportation choice when getting from point A to point B. As the population in the United States has grown exponentially year over year, so has the dependency on these vehicles, which has led to worsening transportation issues like congested roads, air pollution, traffic accidents and in some cases fatalities. Throughout South Florida, in this case Broward County, the negative effects of the population’s dependency on single-occupancy vehicles are rampant throughout the region. While these issues pose a major challenge to Broward, there is hope as the younger generations are looking to avoid the stress of car ownership, and many community leaders and organizations are making a push toward better mass transit and alternative transportation options.

While these are not all new ideas, in the last couple of years the emphasis for Broward has become truly exploring and executing these ideas. This starts with the  30-year Penny For Transportation Surtax that was passed last November and is set to generate billions of dollars toward improving transportation and mass transit options throughout the county. Invest: recently spoke with Monica Cepero, deputy county administrator for Broward County, who discussed what the community could expect from the revenues generated by the tax. “This sales tax is set to generate about $16 billion over the next 30 years, and will be used in the more immediate future to improve and modernize public transit services. Our long-term plan for those funds is focused on creating connectivity, extending roadway capacities, multimodal improvements and improving transportation facilities and service.”

Invest: also spoke with Gregory Stuart, executive director of Broward MPO, about the near-term changes that could be expected from the revenues collected from the tax. “Realistically, the immediate changes aren’t going to result in construction; we are focusing on enhancing the traffic signalization program. This includes a coordination between the traffic lights, people’s vehicles and installing smart communication equipment. Another immediate change that has happened already but which we’re not going to notice for about another year, is the county transit agency’s purchase of another 130 buses. Considering they are operating a fleet of about 300 buses right now, this is a one-third expansion and a significant increase in the bus system,” he told Invest:

While the tax is going to be a huge benefit for transportation in the region, a change in mindset is another factor impacting how people get around. One option is the Tri-Rail, which is celebrating its 30th year servicing the South Florida community. Tri-Rail Executive Director Steven Abrams spoke about how it is benefiting from the changing mindset toward mass transit in the area. “South Florida is a tourist and service-related economy, and these individuals, like waiters or construction workers, cannot work from their homes. We have people coming from all over the world who are used to rail transportation in their countries, and they are feeding into our system. Our roads are also just becoming so congested. It used to be that our ridership would principally, and almost exclusively, fluctuate with gas prices, but now that  gas prices are stable and dropping, we still have people riding our system because ultimately it is the overabundance of cars on the road that is urging them to seek alternative transportation.”

Abrams also spoke to how Tri-Rail has improved and updated its operations over the years to encourage use by a larger population. “Over those 30 years, we have improved our service, added more trains, added weekend and holiday service and added connections to the three airports. We are a transportation system that has become popular over time and we have really embedded ourselves in the tri-county area.” 

The other popular train in South Florida is also the newest mass transit option for the region, Virgin Trains USA. Running through the three counties of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach, the train is looking toward the future by connecting the three counties with Orlando and an eventual Tampa Bay stop as well. 

Patrick Goddard, president for Virgin Trains USA, discussed with Invest: how it wants to be a catalyst for transit change in South Florida. “We are reinventing train travel in America, so there are always going to be challenges, but none that we have not been able to overcome so far. The advent of this project has awakened a desire and a curiosity within the municipalities to recognize the full potential for mass transit in South Florida. We are solving the challenge in Florida of medium-haul travel. Airlines take care of long trips, while rideshare, motorized scooters and buses take care of short ones. There has always been this gap with the 200- to 300-mile distances that are too short to fly and too long to drive. By introducing an option like this, it encourages people to leave their cars at home and start using a more environmentally sustainable means of transit.” 

A key factor in remaining economically sustainable is having good transportation and mass transit options. As Broward County continues to develop into an economic powerhouse so to must its transportation, and with changing mindsets and push from community leaders the future looks bright. 

To learn more about our interviewees, visit:

https://www.tri-rail.com/

http://www.browardmpo.org/

https://www.gobrightline.com/

https://www.broward.org/

Taking Action: How Broward Serves its Veterans

by Max Crampton-Thomas

2 min read July 2019 Florida is home to over 1.5 million military veterans and over 90,000 active duty and reserve members of the armed forces. The commitment to the US military is embedded in the fabric of Florida’s DNA and the reason why so many of these individuals have chosen to call this state home. 

While this dedication to the military can be found throughout the major hubs in the state, Broward County has presented itself as a standout among its peers throughout Florida. 

Since 1945, Broward County Veterans Services has been helping not only veterans but also their families and dependents. Florida’s veterans pump more than $18.4 billion into Florida’s economy each year, and in return Broward County offers services like assistance accessing benefits and entitlements. The involvement with veterans is not limited to the county, as local businesses and organizations consistently create initiatives to make life easier for those who have served. 

Kathleen Cannon, CEO of United Way of Broward County, is among those spearheading specific initiatives in Broward County. The Mission United program helps veterans reacclimate to civilian life by giving them the services and support they need to progress to the next stage of their lives. Last year Invest: Greater Fort Lauderdale spoke to Cannon about her community initiatives with United Way, and what she said resonates with the current Mission United program. “It is really important to the community that the businesses and nonprofit organizations in Broward work well together without egos and with open discussions on how to solve important social issues. The business community continues to step up because it understands the relationship between helping people and a thriving Broward,” she said. “We are a part of the economic engine because we are working to get people to the next level by providing them with the resources they need to improve their education, skills and, ultimately, their financial stability.” 

Small businesses in Broward are also always looking for ways to become more involved and give back to the armed forces community. These initiatives may not be on the same scope as what organizations like the United Way are working to accomplish, but they are addressing everyday needs for these individuals. One example is Pompano Beach’s Beauty Anatomy Institute of Cosmetology and Wellness. It offered free haircuts every Thursday to all active-duty military and veterans during the month of May, which was Military Appreciation Month. 

Broward County understands not only the economic value its veterans and active military bring to the region, but also the intrinsic value of the sacrifice these individuals have made. 

 

For more information visit:

https://www.unitedway.org

http://www.broward.org/ElderlyAndVeterans/Veterans/Pages/Default.aspx

https://bai.edu/