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Some COVID-19 changes remain for 4th of July celebrations

The City of Portage changed the location of its annual fireworks show in 2020 due to the pandemic, and officials decided to keep the new location in 2021.
Published: Jul. 2, 2021 at 10:39 PM CDT
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PORTAGE, Wis. (WMTV) - With the pandemic less of a concern this 4th of July weekend, many celebrations like fireworks shows are returning to full capacity, but not all municipalities have rolled back COVID-19 changes from 2020.

The City of Portage canceled its holiday festival last year and moved the location of its fireworks display; in 2021, they decided to keep that plan in place.

“We needed to have an area where people could space out more,” explained Marianne Hanson, president and CEO of the Portage Area Chamber of Commerce.

For Portage local David Bible, watching the city’s fireworks show with family is a yearly tradition.

“Nice cookout with the girlfriend’s family and enjoying the nice weather we’re having finally,” Bible said.

The annual display is a favorite for everyone in the family.

“Gold ones that sparkle, or make the weird sparkling noise,” said Jayden Witte when asked what his favorite kind of fireworks was. Elizabeth Nicoly chimed in, adding, “I like pink and purple.”

In 2020, the city made some major changes to its 4th of July celebration, moving the location of its entire fireworks show from nearby Pawquette Park to a large field on the north side of the city. The move was due to the pandemic, but Hanson said the Chamber of Commerce received positive feedback on the new location so they decided to keep it for another year.

“A lot of parents actually commented to us, this is great - because of the location, they can put their kids in their car, get them in their pajamas, put them in their car, drive them out here to watch the fireworks, keep them in the car and then take them back home and they’re already set for going to sleep for the night,” Hanson described.

Bible said he also preferred this location. He explained, laughing, “For me it was wonderful, less mosquitoes.”

The new location also offered more space for families, and Hanson said the city is considering making the change permanent.

“We have lots of different viewing areas for people to park on side streets and various parking lots of the local businesses,” she said.

For Bible and his family, the location means they get a front row seat–one of their family members lives right across the street from the field where the fireworks are now launched.

“This will be the second year doing the same thing,” Bible said of his family’s cookout, adding, “Especially with the fireworks here across the street and a wonderful apartment right here in the area.”

Hanson explained the chamber is working to make the fireworks show part of a larger series of events through the month of July. On several Friday evenings throughout the month, there will be live concerts at a new pavilion at Pawquette Park.

“Gives you a better opportunity to attend many events versus just one large one,” Hanson explained.

For a full schedule of events, click here.

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