On Friday, St. Charles Parish President Matt Jewell announced changes to the parish’s upcoming July 3 celebration to further cautionary measures taken against COVID-19.
The event will no longer include a performance by the band Groovy 7, and the number of vendors on site will be limited, Jewell said, days after Louisiana John Bel Edwards announced the state would remain in stage two of its reopening process.
Nonetheless, St. Charles Parish will hold one of its first celebratory gatherings since the onset of COVID-19 as the parish announced its annual Independence Day celebration will be held next week at the West Bank Bridge Park.
In addition to the traditional commemoration of the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, the event will also mark another more local milestone, as the event will be the 30th held since its inception.
But in terms of the immediate landscape, the milestone that may come as most impactful could be a return to relative normalcy for local residents after weeks of a stay-at-home order and the upheaval wrought by a worldwide pandemic.
“On the eve of our nation’s birthday, we are excited to continue a 30-year tradition in St. Charles Parish that I know many residents, including myself, have come to enjoy,” said Parish President Matthew Jewell. “We hope everyone will join us, spread out on the baseball fields with their families, and enjoy the fireworks, which are sure to wow everyone.”
The event is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. Destrehan native and DHS alum Faith Becnel, fresh off of a finish among the Top 20 contestants on American Idol, will sing the national anthem.
Her performance will help kick start the night, which will also begin with the raising of the flag and brief remarks from Parish President Matt Jewell.
The ever popular annual fireworks show will cap things off at 9 p.m., a 20-minute spectacular to close the night.
Earlier this month, the parish announced other changes in the name of caution for this year’s event. There will be more sanitation stations on the site, while the adjacent baseball fields will be opened to allow attendees to spread out more freely. All vendors will be required to wear gloves and masks.
Beyond those measures, the parish has also made a VIP tent and reserved parking available for all Veterans. Reserved parking will be first come, first serve.
“Additionally, residents choosing to attend the event are encouraged to wear a mask and take all necessary precautions,” said Samantha de Castro, the parish’s communications director.
She added that those watching the fireworks show from the levee, or from other vantage points throughout the area, should practice social distancing as well. For those who cannot make to the park, de Castro said it doesn’t preclude them from the enjoying the occasion as the celebration will be live-streamed online.
“For anyone that is high-risk, including those with underlying conditions and the elderly, and unable to attend, the fireworks show will be live-streamed on Facebook,” she said.
The West Bank Bridge Park will be closed the afternoon of July 2 in preparation for the event. The public will not be permitted to use the bike path, nor to drive or walk past barricades present near the levee during the setup for the fireworks show. The I-310 north and southbound off-ramps to River Road will be closed 15 minutes prior to the start of the fireworks demonstration and throughout the show, while River Road will be closed from Ashton Road to the parish’s School Board office.
Food and drinks will be sold by local non-profit organizations during the event.