Fireworks at Murray Park

Fireworks blast off over Murray Park in Ripon during a past Fourth of July celebration.

While some other communities are forgoing fireworks for the Fourth of July, Ripon will not be one of them.

Instead, residents will be able to enjoy the usual flash and fun of Independence Day, even as the COVID-19 pandemic wages on.

City Administrator Lori Rich confirmed that the July 4 fireworks will be held as scheduled.

They’re typically held on the fourth at dusk, and are shot off from Murray Park on the city’s north side.

“The provider for the fireworks is planning on going ahead as scheduled,” Mayor Ted Grant said, noting that it “is my understanding” that it will be a similar show as has been held in the past.

Given the ongoing pandemic, Grant urged anyone who chooses to head to Murray Park or to public spaces to watch the fireworks to take safety measures.

“We hope that the people who do end up choosing to attend maintain a social distance,” he said. “In my opinion, they should be wearing masks but that is a personal choice.”

The mayor recommended people watch from home or from within their own vehicles, and suggested anyone who is experiencing flu-like symptoms should stay home.

“Just follow the standard CDC guidelines,” Grant said. “... People attending should be maintaining their distance and not have large groups together.”

Not all communities are choosing to move forward with fireworks this year.

Princeton and Berlin, for instance, have canceled their Independence Day celebrations. Larger communities such as Fond du Lac and Oshkosh, too, have opted to nix their traditional festivities amid the pandemic.

Green Lake, meanwhile, will continue to have its fireworks and a band playing, but won’t have other aspects of its annual celebration.

Grant expressed some concern at moving forward with Ripon’s event, noting that “if it were up to me personally, I probably would have canceled it,” but added that other city leaders haven’t expressed concern. “No one else on the council has seen the need to cancel with it being an outdoor venue ... With the lack of anyone bringing it forward to cancel or postpone, [I would offer] encouragement for the social distancing.”

Ian Stepleton is the editor of the Ripon Commonwealth Press, and been with the paper since September 2000. Starting with fall 2016, he also is an adjunct professor of journalism at Ripon College, and advisor to the college's newspaper, the College Days.

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