NEW YORK CITY (SBG) - Most long-enjoyed Fourth of July traditions are celebrated under the summer sun and while surrounded by others. Whether gathering with extended family for a cookout, searching for a spot along the street at a busy parade, or watching firework displays in a large crowd of people, the activities typically enjoyed on the July holiday do not lend well to social distancing. In an effort to keep coronavirus cases from spiking as a result of the Fourth of July, a large number of in-person events have been canceled, from fireworks shows to parades. Many beaches and parks will be closed on Saturday as well, and people are being urged to remember social distancing protocols.
However, the holiday itself will continue on, just in a different manner than the country is used to. You'll still be able to safely celebrate the United States from within your home, thanks to virtual concerts, online museum exhibitions, and more. Check out some of the best events happening this Fourth of July for ideas on how you can stay patriotic this year.
Take a virtual tour of the Statue of Liberty.
While the Statue of Liberty remains closed to visitors in response to COVID-19, you can go on an interactive tour of the monument on the National Park Service's website. Step inside of the crown, admire the view from the torch, and learn more about the sculpture's history. Once you've visited the Statue of Liberty, you might then choose to visit a number of other important U.S. sites, like the Freedom Trail in Boston, the U.S. Capitol, or the Washington, D.C. memorials. You could even travel to a few national parks for a dose of nature this holiday.
Eat a hot dog or two — or watch competitive eaters wolf them down.
It wouldn't be Fourth of July without the annual Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest, but the competition will look a little bit different than usual. Travel restrictions kept Matt Stonie, the 2015 winner, from being a part of this year's event; he was replaced by Nick Wehry, who is currently dating defending women's champion Miki Sudo. And instead of taking place outdoors in Coney Island, the hot dog eating will take place in a warehouse without any audience present to cheer on the competitive eaters. Don't worry, though; you'll still be able to tune in to the festivities live on ESPN as Joey Chestnut attempts to defend his title.
Tune in virtually to the 40th anniversary presentation of "A Capitol Fourth."
For the past four decades, "A Capitol Fourth" has been presented from the west lawn of the United States Capitol Building. This year, the 40th anniversary broadcast was pre-taped without a live audience but still features performances from a star-studded lineup; the fireworks display will be covered live. Part of the evening's program this year will include a special tribute to the new American heroes who are putting their lives at risk on the frontlines of the pandemic.
Check out the family-friendly and educational programs offered by the National Archives.
Instead of the usual reading of the Declaration of Independence on the steps of the National Archives Museum, a virtual broadcast will bring the production into homes across the country. The National Archives is also hosting several other discussions and activities throughout the day, including discussions with Thomas Jefferson and Abigail Adams and cooking activities to bring your family together.
Celebrate with a patriotic concert.
If you're feeling musical this Fourth of July, there are plenty of virtual concerts that you can enjoy while safely social distancing. National Harbor is partnering with The U.S. Air Force Band and Washington Performing Arts for "A Tribute to the American Spirit," which streams live from Washington, D.C. and features several renowned artists. There's also the Washington National Cathedral's Fourth of July concert with “The President’s Own” United States Marine Orchestra and other musical guests.
Visit online exhibitions.
The Fourth of July is an ideal time to learn more about our country's history. Although many museums remain closed to the public, online exhibitions can help to bring the museums' collections to your screen. The National Museum of American History has plenty of online exhibitions; topics range from puppetry in America to the history of disability in this country. You can also check out the National Museum of African American History and Culture to learn more about African American life, history, and culture.
Stream "Hamilton" on Disney+.
Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway sensation has received critical acclaim since it first opened in 2015. Now, everyone can enjoy the musical from the comfort of their own homes by watching the film version on Disney+. While the film will remain on the streaming platform past its July 3 premiere, this weekend's holiday is the perfect time to enjoy "Hamilton." In addition, the Museum of the American Revolution is offering "Hamilton"-themed activities to celebrate the film's release, like a virtual walking tour to notable sites in Philadelphia and paper doll crafts.
Join a block party from home.
Block parties are a summer staple, but gathering in a large park with tons of strangers isn't realistic or safe this year. Luckily, Grand Park in Los Angeles is taking their July block party online for all to enjoy. The multicultural programming will include comedy sketches from Filipino AF, an interview with the Chinese American Museum, and several musical performances.
Enjoy the Macy's fireworks in a slightly different way.
The elaborate Macy's Fourth of July fireworks in New York City typically draw humongous crowds to waterfront parks, so the department store had to reimagine their show during this time of social distancing. Instead of one large spectacle on the holiday itself, Macy's has been setting off a series of surprise fireworks in every borough. Each display lasts only five minutes, finishing before crowds can gather. For those not in New York City, the entire week of fireworks shows can be seen on NBC’s two-hour “Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular” special on Saturday, July 4th.