The Independence Day holiday weekend is fast approaching and Fourth of July in Savannah as we once knew it is going to be a bit different going forward.
There might be a mandatory mask requirement within city limits due to rising numbers of positive COVID-19 cases and other restrictions on how many and where residents and visitors can come and go during the usually busy weekend. The new normal is, well the new normal, even on one of the most energetic and engaging holidays of the year.
One of the biggest changes in what Fourth of July, which falls on a Saturday this year, will look and feel like will be the lack of fireworks displays along the river. In May, the City of Savannah, along with neighboring Richmond Hill and Tybee Island, decided to cancel their fireworks celebrations. "The city doesn’t have any festivities planned for July 4," said City of Savannah Senior Director, Communications Nick Zoller via email. Zoller added that this was a "mutual agreement between the city and waterfront association."
The large crowds that come from all over the country, and in some cases the world, to watch the display is one of the reasons for this drastic change. For those really looking forward to fireworks, there is are more options however.
There are plenty of things to do for the Fourth, from food to outdoor fun, here’s a list:
1) Fireworks at Family Day Field and Fort Stewart
The fireworks may not be on the river this year, but they will be on full display at Family Day Field at Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah on Friday July 3 from 8:30-9:45 p.m., and Donovan Field at Fort Stewart in Hinesville on Saturday, July 4, beginning at 9:30 p.m.
The option of watching from your car is available off E. 9th St., or if a closer look is more your thing, a 20x25-inch parking space is available for those that want to partake in watching the red, white and blue from lawn chairs and picnic blankets. Pop-up tents (as large as 10x10) are welcome. Weapons, grills, glass bottles and pets are not.
2) Fourth of July Watermelon Crawl
The annual Fourth of July Watermelon Crawl at Lake Mayer is back. Hosted by Fleet Feet Savannah, the 6-mile or 8-mile loop from Lake Mayer through Isle of Hope begins at 7 a.m., will run until 9 a.m., requires no registration and is free. Runners, joggers and walkers are only required to bring their own water as there will not be any distributed throughout the route or at the conclusion of the crawl. There will be watermelon however and isn’t that really the point?
As of July 1, there are no listed social-distancing requirements for participation in the crawl.
3) Tour the city of Savannah on the Fourth
There are plenty of opportunities to take tours of the city’s historic sights in all of it’s Independence Day glory.
Old Town Trolley Tours will be running from 9 a.m. ot 5 p.m. on Saturday with COVID-19 and social-distancing measures in place. Trolley conductors will be wearing masks and masks will be available to guests, according to a representative. The representative also added that the trolleys will be cleaned and sanitized following every tour and at the end of the day.
4) Where to eat a COVID-19 friendly meal?
Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room may be closed for the Fourth of July holiday (so will Grayson Stadium for that matter as the Bananas will be off for the holiday and back home July 5 against rival Macon at 7 p.m.), but there will be plenty of places to have Independence Day dinner in town. There have been social-distancing practices in place for weeks so any of the dozens of dining options are a great way to begin or end your Fourth.
Flying Monk Noodle Bar (5. W. Broughton St.) offers a quick and tasty option for dinner, not to mention outdoor seating for people-watching while you enjoy a hot bowl of ramen or a cool Thai iced tea.
Huey’s on the River (115 E. River St.) offers a combination of both the aforementioned eateries with easy access to the river in case watching ships, most will be decorated for the occasion, is on your post-dinner plans.
5) Take a stroll through the woods
The Wormsloe State Historic Site (7601 Skidaway Rd.) is a great way to socially-distant one's self while enjoying the Independence Day holiday outdoors. The site is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and offers everything from nature trails, picnic areas and Wi-Fi for those of us that can't totally disconnect. Pets are allowed on the grounds, but must be leashed for the safety of others and themselves.
Speaking of safety, the Georgia parks website leads with an alert that notes there might be "temporarily limited access to ensure social-distancing and protect the health of the public." It goes on to say admission to the site may be "limited for several hours."