floating July Fourth.jpeg

Fireworks from the water — Pigeon River Outfitters holds a special night float under the fireworks in downtown Canton held on Sunday night in keeping with the town’s traditional July4+1 celebration.

floating July Fourth.jpeg

As people across the nation prepare to celebrate Independence Day, it will be a far different type of experience than people in Haywood are accustomed to.

First off, the large events many love, including the Backyard Fourth celebration in Maggie Valley, the traditional parade, barbecue/shindig and fireworks at Lake Junaluska and portions of the Downtown Waynesville celebration were canceled

The spread of COVID-19 has not only prompted state rules curbing outdoor gatherings, but has caused many to re-evaluate their plans to venture out, even if it is just an essential trip to the grocery store.

The incessant and indefatigable spread of the virus is relatively new to the world. Scientists are learning more every day about its ability to mutate, spread and impact the everyday lives of individuals.

While much has been learned, there are still many unknowns, and that is likely one factor that has put vacations on hold, tamped down neighborhood gatherings and even postponed cherished family events.

Is there long-term damage to those sickened by the virus? Will we find a way to stop it in its tracks? Why do some have no symptoms and others die from the virus? When 60 percent of COVID-19 deaths are among those 75 or older, why does a young, healthy person occasionally die?

It is indeed good news that the massive death toll predicted early on hasn’t materialized, though it is still worth noting that the number of COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. is more than double the number of Americans who died in the Vietnam War. Those of a certain age will remember the turmoil that war caused in the U.S. for years.

Another early prediction that hasn’t played out is the age group of those who would be hardest hit by the virus. Early on, the dire predictions were that those with chronic illnesses and compromised immune systems would suffer the most. But the largest group testing positive for the virus is those between ages 25 and 49, who make up 45 percent of the cases. Add in the population between 50 and 62, and that’s 65 percent of the cases.

All these factors and unknowns have led to a new way to doing things, from working at home to take-out dining to not holding traditional gatherings, from birthday celebrations to graduations to holiday traditions.

That said, there is still reason to celebrate July 4, albeit in a new way. There are ideas for that in today’s paper, with more coming this weekend. Keep on reading.

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