If you know anything about Delray Beach, you know that we love our parties. New Year’s Eve, Christmas, Halloween, Easter, and most certainly July Fourth all give us locals the opportunity to head downtown and join our fellow community members in a grand celebration. However, with the coronavirus restrictions and with a goal to keep the community safe, the City decided to cancel the fireworks, live music and beach activities downtown to instead encourage everyone to enjoy their own festivities from home. However, being home doesn’t mean that you were alone, and there was still quite a happening party!
Instead of the typical fanfare of years’ past, the City created an entire Virtual Fourth of July agenda that locals were invited to participate from the comfort and safety of their own backyards. All activities were held virtually, and included Delray Beach and America Themed Trivia Games, Digital Scrapbook, Virtual Parade (that was revealed on July 4 and free to view), and a Decorate Delray Contest, where homeowners and businesses patriotically decorated their space for a shot at earning the coveted and inaugural First, Second or Third places.
“Ultimately, [the Virtual Fourth of July] is a way to lift up the community and keep things moving,” said Grace Gdaniec, Arts Warehouse manager. “What’s exciting is that anyone can participate in these events. While we’re celebrating separately, it might feel like we’re together as a community.”
A non-virtual way for the community to be involved was through the “Activity to Go” American Party Pack kits that were put together with the Delray Beach Parks and Recreation department. The 600 bags included activities and patriotic accessories to help families celebrate Independence Day, and were available for pick-up on Saturday, July 4 at four locations (Pompey Park, “505” Teen Center and Hobbit Skate Park, Barwick Park, and Catherine Strong Park) from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Another non-virtual activity was a Discovery Delray Beach Scavenger, which encouraged participants to visit new places and complete new challenges (safely and by the CDC recommended guidelines!).
Gdaniec said the hope for this virtual event was to keep things feeling as normal as possible while the City moves forward safely handling and managing the coronavirus. She believes that Delray Beach does a great job of engaging residents and the community throughout the year with different events and festivals, and feels that the hope from the City is to continue this positive engagement, even if that means that it’s not in person.
Locals and visitors also had the opportunity to start the festivities sooner than Saturday, and were invited to enjoy a Sparktacular Summer Sidewalk Sale on Friday, July 3, as well as the Virtual First Friday Art walk, which featured several galleries and art spaces in a virtual platform.
While we all missed the over-the-top July Fourth festivities that Delray Beach is known for, the Virtual Fourth was a great success! It shows that the Delray community can band together to show support, all while making the best of a virtual situation.