HAPPY FOURTH: Celebrating America’s independence in new ways during a pandemic

Each year when encore culls a comprehensive list of Fourth of July activities and celebrations, we struggle to find room for them all. This year, however, the fireworks have fizzled, so to speak. Still, celebrating our country’s independence is about more than hot dogs and fireworks, flag cakes and sparklers; it’s about celebrating the idea that we are all free. That’s never been more important to remember than right now in 2020: Men and women of all colors, religions, ethnicities, creeds and gender identification own the right to be free and live with liberty and justice.

This year we celebrate our rights more than ever: the right to vote, the right to protest against injustices, the right to free speech, the right to ensure our country is governed by the people and for the people. Parades and fireworks, while fun, are not what make the American dream a reality; it’s the people who lift each other up and stand by each other that make Independence Day worth celebrating.

That said, there are a handful of actions and events to take part in this year—either online or from a distance. If we missed anything you’d like us to add, please, email music@encorepub.com.


Oak Island Fireworks
Wednesday, July 1, 9 p.m.

The Town of Oak Island will have its annual fireworks display (weather permitting) this year. However, due to COVID-19 and social distancing, the town is encouraging folks to not gather at Oak Island Pier to see them. Those sparkly fireballs can be seen just as well over the ocean along the beachfront. No matter where you are for the fireworks, folks should follow CDC guidelines: practice social distancing, keep groups to fewer than 10 people and wear masks.

Parking is available in town parking lots and on-street rights-of-way. Read more about traffic assistance leaving the island at oakislandnc.com.

Virtual NC 4th of July Festival
July 2-July 4, various times

Southport is well known for its annual Fourth of July celebration. Touted as the official NC 4th of July Festival, its award-winning Naturalization Ceremony is part of the appeal since 1996.

2020 marks the 225th anniversary of Southport’s festival, and while the city won’t be bustling with activity, there are numerous Facebook events, contests and learning activities held from July 2 – 4. The schedule includes a “Suffrage Challenge” to change your FB profile image on July 3 in honor of the 100 anniversary of 19th Amendment; a special Naturalization Presentation “Becoming American” at noon and 2 p.m. on July 3; a flag-raising ceremony and reading of the Declaration of Independence on July 4;  as well as a series of videos and photos series of festivals past on July 4.

No matter where you are, organizers are calling for a community-wide pledge of allegiance at 11:03 a.m. on July 4.

View the entire virtual festival schedule of events and contests at www.nc4thofjuly.com, and watch/participate via their Facebook page: www.facebook.com/nc4thofjulyfestival.


Black Lives Matter March – The 4th of You Lie March 2020
Saturday, July 4, 2 p.m.
Meet the 1898 Memorial on Third Street

Nothing says “freedom” like still fighting for your rights!

Black Lives Matter protests continue in downtown Wilmington from the lowercase leaders. But the official BLM Wilmington chapter will host a special March For Black Lives Matter in protest of injustice and racial disparities in the U.S. on July 4. BLM are sponsored by the Black Leadership Caucus and support the Justice in Policing Act 2020. This week’s marchers are demanding charges be filed against the three WPD officers recently fired for their grotesque racist and violent comments on duty. Organizers ask everyone in attendance to wear a mask and maintain social-distancing practices.

Learn more at facebook.com/BLMILM.


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Beehive Blondes 4th of July Social Distancing Dance Party!
Saturday, July 4, 7:30 p.m.
Cloud 9 Rooftop Bar, 9 Estell Lee Pl.

If anyone knows how to party this Fourth, it’s The Beehive Blondes retro DJ-dancing duo. This Saturday marks their debut appearance at Cloud 9, not to mention their first gig since COVID-19 started shutting everything down in March. Going from 7:30 p.m. – 10 p.m., the Beehive Blondes will spin hits from the ‘50s all the way through the ‘90s. It’s a free dance party, while social distancing. Be sure to BYO mask and dress up in your spiffiest red, whites and blues.

Virtual History Tour of the Hannah Block Historic USO Building
Saturday, July 4, All-day
Facebook page

Though Hannah Block Historic USO/Community Arts Center’s annual in-person July 4 Open House is canceled, folks can still “visit” the historic  78-year-old building virtually. Hannah Block will post a virtual tour on its Facebook page this Saturday. Filmed with the help of Curtis Thieman and Port City Films, local WWII historian Capt. Wilbur Jones will guide viewers through the wartime Wilmington exhibits in the museum lobby, which has been restored to its 1943 appearance.


Josh Youse at Riverfront Farmers’ Market
Saturday, July 4, 9:15 a.m.
Waterline Brewing Company, 721 Surry St.

While Wilmington-based singer-songwriter and instrumentalist Josh Youse is working on a spring 2021 release, he’ll help celebrate the Fourth with local farmers at this Saturday’s Riverfront Farmers’ Market at Waterline. Folks can get a preview of Youse’s music on his Soundcloud page. The market opens at 9 a.m., with free American flags to the first 200 guests, and Youse will start playing at 9:15 a.m.

Don’t forget to wear a snazzy face mask and keep 6 feet apart.

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