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.  

All Aboard! Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade Ready to Set Sail

All Aboard! Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade Ready to Set Sail

By: Max Crampton-Thomas

2 min read December 2019 — The annual Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade is just around the corner, and event organizers are adding the finishing touches to “The Greatest Show on H2O.” That’s no understatement, with an estimated economic impact of $50 million and 1 million live spectators, plus online and TV streams. “There is nothing like the Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade in the entire world,” said Lisa Scott-Founds, the event’s President and CEO.

 

Taking place on Dec. 14, the show – the seventh-largest one-day spectator event in the country – is not to be missed. “Private boats to the giant showboats and corporate megayachts will be adorned with hundreds of thousands of lights, music, entertainment, decorations, celebrities, musical groups, beauty queens and many other exciting entries,” the event’s website promises. Think the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, but on water.

According to Scott-Founds, as a nonprofit organization, organizers are constantly innovating to think of new ways to make the event stand out without breaking the bank. “We always want to integrate the newest technology into our event, like the use of holograms, which we hope is a real possibility for this year,” she said. “We are always asking people, ‘What is something that you’ve never seen us do before?’ We take their suggestion, develop a budget to execute the idea and bring it to our board and possible sponsors to help with underwriting the “new wow factor idea.”

This year, the 12-mile parade route will begin at Stranahan House and will sail eastward into Fort Lauderdale to the Intracoastal Waterway, and ending at Lake Santa Barbara in Pompano Beach. It costs a minimum of $35 to enter a boat with no advertising, while the heftiest sponsorship package comes in at a cool $65,000. Spectators can also purchase a ticket to the Grandstand Viewing Area inside the Hugh Taylor Birch State Park with prices starting at $25 for children 10 and under.

The economic bump in the county’s coffers comes at a good time, says Scott-Founds. “The beginning of December is a little slower for tourism, as opposed to other months when tourism in South Florida sees a boom, so we feel a responsibility to bring people into the region and put heads in beds,” she says.

For the event, it seems that all stakeholders in the area come together to enhance the experience for visitors. “Our success is due to collaboration with organizations like our Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau and working with area hotels,” says Scott-Founds. “Tourists should experience a Winterfest weekend, a show at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, eat at our restaurants and immerse themselves in our community. There is just so much to do in Fort Lauderdale, and in Broward County for that matter.”

To learn more, visit:

https://winterfestparade.com/

Philadelphia celebrates 100th Thanksgiving Day parade

Philadelphia celebrates 100th Thanksgiving Day parade

By Yolanda Rivas

2 min read November 2019 — It is well-known that Philadelphia is a city of firsts in terms of the nation’s history and the development of key industries. It shouldn’t be a surprise then that the City of Brotherly Love also hosts the oldest Thanksgiving parade in the nation. 

This year marks the 100th celebration of the Philadelphia 6ABC Dunkin’ Donuts Thanksgiving Day Parade. What is now one of Philadelphia’s treasured traditions began as a marketing strategy by former department store Gimbels to promote the beginning of the holiday shopping season. The first parade took place in 1920, shortly after the Benjamin Franklin Parkway was completed. Gimbels hosted the parade until 1986, when the company went out of business, and WPVI-TV took over the parade production. 

“The first parade was started with 15 cars, and 50 store employees,” said Todd Marcocci, a co-producer of the 6abc/Dunkin Thanksgiving Day Parade, in a written statement on the parade’s official website. “It was specifically described that those 15 cars were lavishly decorated in crepe paper.”

Decade after decade, the parade has been a special celebration for families around the region. One of the most exciting moments of the parade was the tradition of Santa climbing a fire department ladder several stories up the Gimbels building to Uncle Wip’s Toyland.

“The route was down the parkway around City Hall, down Market Street to the original Gimbels building. And then Santa would get off and go up the ladder and into the building,” said Robert DiBenedetto of Blue Bell, Pa, in a statement on the parade’s website. 

After five years, the parade started to gain more recognition. Today, the Philadelphia parade features 15 balloons, 16 floats, over 20 marching bands, 66 youth tap, dancing and choir groups and more than 20 celebrities and special guests.

“It’s a family tradition. The streets are filled with happy people,” said 6abc meteorologist and parade co-host Cecily Tynan in a written statement on the parade’s website. “It’s just a perfect way to start your holiday season.” 

To celebrate the 100th Thanksgiving Day parade, the public will have the chance to win several prizes, including a Florida trip for six, tickets to an Eagles vs. Cowboys game, and more. 

This year’s parade will kick off at 8:15 a.m. from 20th & JFK in Philadelphia, and will be broadcast on 6abc from 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. 

To learn more, visit:

6abc Dunkin’ Thanksgiving Day Parade:

https://dig.abclocal.go.com/wpvi/html/tdp100/index.html

Thanksgiving in the Queen City

Thanksgiving in the Queen City

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read November 2019— Gratitude, family, fellowship, outdoor activities, turkey, gravy, and shopping are some of the characteristics closely associated with Thanksgiving Day, and the Queen City offers no shortage of any of these during the fourth Thursday of November through the long weekend. The signature North Carolina cold weather allows for some outdoor, family fun while the feast cooks slowly in the kitchen. From famous parades, Black Friday shopping preparations, and ice skating, Thanksgiving Day in Charlotte offers plenty of activities for the entire family. 

While New York City has the Macy’s Parade, Novant Health, one of the region’s largest employers, has wowed Charlotteans with fancy parade floats, marching bands, live music, and recognizable cartoon characters for the past 72 years. Known as the “Mile of Smiles,” The Novant Health Thanksgiving Parade is a beloved tradition drawing families from across the southeast to Uptown to kick off the start of the holiday season. The parade starts at 9 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day and draws more than 110,000 attendees. The parade begins on 9th Street heading South on Tryon Street to Stonewall Street, where different ethnic organizations display their pride and colors, while marching bands from a variety of educational institutions keep the energy upbeat as they make their way through the Mile of Smiles. The party continues at the end of the route with performances from a bevy of local talent. For those who would rather snooze a bit longer on Thanksgiving morning, the parade will be broadcast online and on local TV stations. 

 

While Thanksgiving Day is a time for reflection, it also marks the start of the holiday shopping season. Black Friday has become a national tradition, and the area’s local shopping malls are gearing up for the influx of shoppers expected to get a leg up on the holiday shopping season. In the spirit of enjoying time with the family, many recognizable stores have chosen to close on Thanksgiving Day and open early during Black Friday. According to bestblackfriday.com, a website that tracks Black Friday deals and news, stores such as Burlington Coat Factory, Costco, Lowe’s, Marshalls, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Petsmart and Sam’s Club, among others, will be closed on Thursday nationwide. Locals looking for deals can head to Concord Mills, SouthPark and Northlake shopping malls early Friday morning, as they have adjusted their schedules to accommodate shoppers. 

 

Families looking to avoid a turkey stupor can also head to the NASCAR Hall of Fame to stretch their legs and ice skate under the night sky. During this time of the year, the mecca for all things NASCAR turns into a magical winter wonderland, known as Holiday on Ice and featuring one of Charlotte’s best ice skating rinks. Families can enjoy selfies with a giant polar bear, or a large Christmas tree, or a walk through the Ceremonial Garden that features thousands of holiday lights. A trip to Holiday on Ice is the perfect way to finish Thanksgiving and embrace the upcoming holiday season. 

 

For more information, visit:

https://www.nascarhall.com/plan-a-visit/holidays-at-the-hall

http://novanthealththanksgivingparade.com/

Spotlight On: Lisa Scott-Founds, President & CEO, Winterfest Inc

Spotlight On: Lisa Scott-Founds, President & CEO, Winterfest Inc

By Max Crampton-Thomas

2 min read October 2019 — The Broward County community is spoiled for choice when it comes to events in the area, as there is seemingly something happening every week, even in winter. The seventh-largest spectator event in Florida is the Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade, to be held this year on Dec. 12. Invest: spoke with President and CEO of Winterfest Inc Lisa Scott-Founds about the importance of innovation to the event, how they ensure safety and the role the Boat Parade plays in the tourism economy of Broward County. 

How important is consistent innovation to the success of the event?

We always want to integrate the newest technology into our event, like the use of holograms, which we hope is a real possibility for this year. As a nonprofit organization, we are always searching for unique additions to our event that are not cost-prohibitive. We are always asking people, “What is something that you’ve never seen us do before?” We take their suggestion, develop a budget to execute the idea and bring it to our board and possible sponsors to help with underwriting the “new wow-factor idea.” It’s amazing what can happen when you bring together creative minds and supporters in the business community. The entertainment value is the most important element for our success to ensure we continue to be the “Greatest Show on H2O” and the seventh-largest spectator event in the state of Florida.

How do you ensure safety at an event like Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade?

We work with all our law enforcement officials the United States Coast Guard, Broward County Sheriff’s Office, Fort Lauderdale Marine Patrol, Fort Lauderdale Police Department and the Fire Department. When putting on an event of this caliber, safety is the No. 1 priority. Those who participate in the parade are educated on all our safety procedures. We send them messages on a daily basis to always be conscious of how important it is to keep safety first when you are on the water. As a parade on water, Winterfest needs to have proper procedures in place. Unlike a land parade; you can’t just hit a brake on a boat to stop. Spectators within our Grandstand viewing area see signs directed toward their safety as well.

What role does the Boat Parade play in the tourism market within Broward County?

There is nothing like the Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade in the entire world. The beginning of December is a little slower for tourism, as opposed to other months when tourism in South Florida sees a boom, so we feel a responsibility to bring people into the region and put heads in beds. Our success is due to collaboration with organizations like our Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau and working with area hotels. Tourists should experience a Winterfest weekend, a show at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, eat at our restaurants and immerse themselves in our community. There is just so much to do in Fort Lauderdale, and in Broward County for that matter.

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit: 

 

https://winterfestparade.com/