Fourth of July celebration evolves

  • There will not be any fireworks in Highlands on Independence Day, but there will be a full slate of socially-distanced community events.
    There will not be any fireworks in Highlands on Independence Day, but there will be a full slate of socially-distanced community events.

The social distancing restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 coronavirus have forced the cancellation of many traditional Fourth of July events. 

But, just because the annual fireworks show and other Fourth of July activities have been halted, doesn’t mean anyone canceled Independence Day, said Highlands Chamber of Commerce Director Kaye McHan. 

“This year may be the most creative Fourth of July celebration we have had,” McHan said. “Families and friends are preparing patriotic themed feasts, outdoor activities and craft projects, firepits for an evening together to watch the explosion of stars we can see here in the mountains.”

McHan said, July 4 will happen, coronavirus or not. The only thing changing this year is how it’s celebrated. 

“It’s our opportunity to celebrate America’s independence and hard won freedoms with those who are near and dear,” she said.


Activities in Highlands

McHan said it came down to a matter thinking outside the box. There will be plenty of ways to celebration America’s Independence Day without fireworks.

“There are some events for the Fourth we have in work that could be fun for the public and still adhere to the social distancing demands of the coronavirus,” McHan said. 

While the Fourth of July fireworks and field day games have been canceled, there will still be a lot people can do to celebrate Independence Day in and around Highlands, McHan said. “The Highlands Biological Station is participating with a self-guided scavenger hunt through the botanical gardens. We will also be live-streaming a virtual Fourth of July concert that will be streaming on Facebook featuring the Wobblers.”

The Wobblers concert can be seen on Facebook from 7 – 9 p.m. 

Other July 4 activities include the Greenway Family Hike, organized by the Plateau Greenway, activities provided by the Highlands Playhouse and a traveling troubadours concert down Main Street in the back of a pickup truck. 

“We did this during the Christmas parade with a band playing in the back of a pickup truck,” McHan said. “We think it will work fine since the truck will be moving from place to place and staying mobile.”

The concert begins at 3 p.m. 


The Wobblers - Live-streaming

 The Wobblers are one of South Carolina’s most unique roots bands,  according to Chamber events manager Beverly Wichman. With an emphasis on New Orleans style rhythms and unique instrumentation, the band pulls from a wide variety of influences- gospel, blues, hard-bop jazz, and old school twangy country.

Get ready for a high-energy show that features the sound of Hammond organ, horns, and vocal harmonies. Learn more at 

“All you need is a phone, iPad, computer, or TV to tune into the first live-streamed concert from the Highlands Performing Art Center,” Wichman said.


Stroll on the Greenway

The Highlands Plateau Greenway will host a three-quarter mile hike on the Oak Street Trail from 9 a.m. until 12 p.m.


Highlands Playhouse popcorn 

“Would you like some popcorn on the Fourth? Of course, we have it,” Wichman said. “The Highlands Playhouse will be selling their fabulous movie-quality popcorn on the deck of the Playhouse. We’re all missing the movies – and especially the popcorn – so plan to drop by and purchase some. The Playhouse will appreciate your support.”

Popcorn at the Highlands Playhouse will be available Saturday afternoon from 1 – 4 p.m.


Self-guided scavenger hunt

The Highlands Biological Station will provide a self-guided tour of its hiking trails, said Nature Center Education Specialist Paige Engelbrektsson.

“People will look for natural objects in the botanical garden that are Fourth of July themed,” she said. “We have a variety of flower colored and shaped like the Fourth of July. This will help people look for things Fourth of July related while they hike the botanical gardens.”

The Nature Center will provide handouts at the entrance for people to take and use during the scavenger hunt. 

The Highlands Biological Station is a multi-campus center of Western Carolina University.


FLG fireworks 

There are a slate of socially distanced activities planned for July 4, just no fireworks in Highlands. Residents and guests can invest in a half-hour drive on July 3 and get a fireworks fix on the shores of Lake Glenville in Jackson County.

The Friends of Lake Glenville announced this week the 23rd Annual Friends of Lake Glenville Fireworks Over Lake Glenville scheduled for 9:30 p.m. on July 3.

The fireworks will be launched from its usual spot, The Pointe, just north of Trillium on the west side of Lake Glenville. Marianne Smith, vice president with FLG, said the success of the fireworks, even during the COVID-19 pandemic, is because of its built-in social distancing with the display being seen throughout Lake Glenville, either from a boat, from a back porch or from a car. 

“The fireworks lend itself to social distancing because of the natural social distancing that occurs when viewing the fireworks from the lake,” she said. “The only way anyone can violate social distancing is to put too many passengers on a boat, but the sheriff’s office and DNR are out on the water making sure boats remain distanced from each other. In the car and from home is conducive to family gatherings of less than 10 people.”

The fireworks are held rain or shine, unless dangerous conditions develop, such as lightning. For up to the minute status of the fireworks, go to the Friends of Lake Glenville Facebook page.