Celebrating safely

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Jaxson Gage is decked out in his Fourth of July best as he tosses a football to his friend during the community picnic at the 2019 Celebration of Freedom. 

A decades-long tradition will return to Bolivar next month, this time with COVID-19 safety precautions in place.

The Bolivar Rotary Club’s Celebration of Freedom fireworks event is set for Saturday, July 4, on the Southwest Baptist University campus. 

“Celebration of Freedom is a 40-year tradition, and we want to give the community the opportunity to continue the tradition this year,” Todd Earl, president-elect of the rotary club, said in a news release from the organization. “We have worked directly with the Polk County Health Center, City of Bolivar and SBU to develop a plan for celebrating our nation’s freedom in a safe and responsible manner.”

Earl said those safety measures will be the responsibility of each attendee, who will need to exercise “appropriate physical distancing and use of personal protection to ensure a safe and healthy event.”

According to the release, vendors will adhere to safety guidelines provided by the Polk County Health Center, the release stated.

The community picnic, a long standing part of the annual event, will continue with vendor booths spaced farther apart, the release stated.

Guests will need to follow all guidelines as established by the Polk County COVID-19 Recovery Plan as of July 4.

“We have been in close contact with rotary club leadership to determine what changes need to be made to make this a safe event for the community,” PCHC director Michelle Morris said in the release. “I urge all guests to be responsible by following physical distancing guidelines and practicing hand washing often. Do not come to the event if you are sick. I also encourage those who are in high-risk populations to utilize face coverings and other protective measures or to stay at home this year.”

Earl said in the release those who are vulnerable due to underlying health issues or are uncomfortable being in a large crowd should be able to view the fireworks show from off-campus.

“We are working to arrange a live broadcast for those who are not comfortable with attending the event,” he said. 

On the schedule

According to the release, the 2020 Celebration of Freedom program begins at 8 p.m. Saturday, July 4, with retired Ret. Col. Gary Gilmore as the speaker.

Gilmore was Senior Army Chaplain to the Missouri National Guard. 

More program details will be available closer to the event.

In the event of inclement weather, the fireworks show will be held the next evening with favorable weather, the release stated.

Information about any changes due to weather will be posted at bolivarrotary.club and facebook.com/BolivarMoRotary.

SBU vice president of advancement Brad Johnson said in the release the university was proud to help sponsor the event. 

“As has been a tradition for 40 years, SBU is pleased once again to host this rotary event on campus,” Johnson said in the release. “All of the event details are in the very capable hands of the community leaders in the Bolivar Rotary Club.”

Vendors wanted 

According to a letter from the CoF, area nonprofit organizations are invited to participate as vendors at the community picnic. 

Nonprofits will be able to keep all the money they make during the event, the release stated.

Guidelines in place include:

• Pre-packaged food and condiments only. No open containers can be passed from the vendors to the public. 

• All workers at vendor booths must wear gloves and masks at all times. Gloves are to be changed often and proper hand washing must be done between glove changes.

• Vendors will be placed away from the sidewalk to leave space for social distancing.

• Hand washing and sanitizing stations will be accessible around the vendor area. Vendors shall promote proper hand washing to their customers.

Prospective vendors should reach out to rotary vendor co-chair Ed Kurtz at 327-7465 or email ed@dgaltdonline.com for a registration form. 

Registration forms are also available at BolivarMoNews.com

Vendors setup opens at 3 p.m. July 4 and must be completed by 5:30 p.m. 

Vendor booths may be open from 6 to 9 p.m., when the fireworks start.

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