Socially-distanced celebrations of Independence Day

Art by Valerie “CrowCrumbs” Howard

WEST TEXAS – The tri-county will boast smaller celebrations for the United State’s 244th birthday this weekend, each encouraging celebrations of freedoms and independence with six feet of distance. From parades to festivities, counties and cities have cancelled typical Independence Day events in favor of keeping the public distanced during a local coronavirus outbreak. Still, fireworks will light up the sky this Friday in Fort Davis, and across the tri-counties, residents can pop their own with a few restrictions.

In Jeff Davis County, the Chamber of Commerce cancelled all of their events other than the fireworks show. Board President Adele Coffey said, “This year’s festivities were cancelled for the safety of our residents and tourists.”

Jeff Davis County, along with neighboring Brewster County, have firework bans in place this year, limiting the sale of the types with “sticks” and “fins” but allowing smaller, common fireworks. However, Fort Davis will still permit the annual Great Fireworks Extravaganza on Friday, July 3, starting at 9:30 p.m.

The event is at Jeff Davis County Park on Highway 17 South, and this year promises to be a bit different: there is no park entry. Instead, guests are asked to line up in their cars on the road outside the park, with six feet between each vehicle. With that distance, viewers are permitted to sit on the hoods of their cars or the beds of their trucks to picnic and enjoy the view.

In Fort Davis, some private businesses will be holding their own openings or vending their wares. Some of the restaurants will have alternative ways of serving people to avoid lines and close quarters, instead setting up ordering outside or only allowing outdoor and to-go eating.

Presidio County Judge Cinderela Guevara said that since the county is under a burn ban, fireworks are permitted on July 3 and 4, but limited to Vizcaino Park near Marfa and the race track in Presidio. Parts of south county are in extreme drought according to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, so residents are asked to take precautions with fireworks.

Recent executive orders from the governor limit gatherings to no greater than 100 people. In the City of Presidio, a 4th of July celebration on Saturday at the Presidio Industrial park will have fireworks from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. and a “clear-out time” of 12 a.m. “Please practice social distancing, wear a mask, groups no larger than 10 people and don’t mingle with other groups and keep your children close as well,” a message on the city’s social media page reads.