The Fourth of July in Corvallis usually consists of the Red, White and Blue Riverfront Festival, the Downtown Corvallis Fourth of July parade, various fireworks shows, and more. This year, however, the Fourth will be entirely different, as a worldwide pandemic and recent protests have changed our community’s plans for Independence Day.
The Red, White and Blue Riverfront Festival, which usually includes live music, food, kid‘s activities, and fireworks, has been cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns, along with the Downtown Corvallis Fourth of July parade.
Cloud Davidson, who revived the event last year, stated in reference to the decision to cancel: “It wasn’t at all difficult to decide. Obviously it was the right thing to do given all that is going on with COVID. COVID is here with us for a while and we all need to be extra safe for the time being… We are looking positively to next year and hope to throw twice the party to make up for it.”
Fireworks shows have also been cancelled, including Jaycees Annual Independence Day Aerial Fireworks Display.
That doesn’t mean that some Corvallisites aren’t putting on their own Fourth of July celebrations. In asking community members about their plans for Independence Day, many stated their intentions to host BBQ’s and put on their own fireworks shows, some stressing social distancing, others not.
Quite a few are planning on traveling to remote locations or staying inside when it gets dark to avoid the loud noises, for themselves and their pets.
Another group of Corvallisites said they plan to not celebrate the Fourth this year for political and social justice related reasons.
Andrea Haverkamp stated their reasons: “I haven’t celebrated the 4th of July since about 2015, as a political stance. Now more than ever I do not celebrate, especially this year as it is so incredibly important to abstain. There is literally nothing to celebrate about our government’s state-sanctioned and slavery-rooted prison and policing system.”
Another Corvallisite, Emily Clare Galasso, said, “It’s hard to feel celebratory about a country that prides itself on its freedoms while simultaneously ignoring the very lack of freedom in the lives of minorities. It’s hypocritical and uncaring, to me.”
One anonymous commenter argued, “Remember Independence Day is a celebration of our country’s separation from England’s tyranny. Cruel and oppressive government rule. We can still hold these truths.”
Others have opted to use the day off for reflection.
“I plan to do some intense reflection about the state of our nation. The word freedom has become a precarious word as of late. Freedom has been somewhat elusive to our African American brothers and sisters. I hope to honor those who continue to struggle for their freedom,” remarked another anonymous commenter.
Another stated their plans to educate themselves and their children about Oregon’s history with racial injustice, starting with how the Kalapuyan peoples in our area were forced to leave by early settlers. Some references for doing so were suggested, including an informational page from Oregon Encyclopedia, an excerpt from Tribal Stories of the Willamette Valley by David G. Lewis, and a book by Judy Rycraft Juntunen, The World of the Kalapuya: A Native People of Western Oregon.
By Cara Nixon