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Ways to celebrate July 4th in the midst of a pandemic

Patricia Faulhaber
Suburbanite correspondent
The Reed family from Uniontown take time out to enjoy time together with a picnic in Jackson Township's North Park. From left, Ryan, Jocelyn and baby Addilyn.

JACKSON TWP. The July 4 weekend is fast approaching and while the actual holiday is on a Saturday this year, many families will want to have activities for Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

With so many celebratory community events canceled, what’s a family to do for the favorite summertime holiday?

There are many activities around Jackson Township and Stark County that families can engage in and make July 4 fun and family oriented while continuing social distancing. There are a few ideas listed below for planning activities such as picnicking, fishing, boating, walking, hiking, biking, shopping, eating and more.

Get out into the parks

Stark County has a number of park systems that will be open for all kinds of activities such as barbequing, picnicking and playing non-contact games such as volleyball.

Jackson Township parks will be open as will the Stark Parks walking and hiking trails. Both park systems are perfect for doing yoga together outside or starting a new hobby such as bird watching. Many playgrounds will be opened by the end of June. Check out more information at www.jacksontwp.com or starkparks.com.

Many parks offer small ponds or lakes for the family to try fishing. There are also camping parks around the area for the family to pitch a tent for the weekend.

A little online research can help the family have fun in the parks while staying safe including ways to social distance and wear a mask.

Sports activities

Golf has gained a bigger following this year and there are courses around the county that will more than likely be open on July 4 or one of the days of that weekend. It’s probably best to call to reserve a tee time because of the popularity of playing this summer.

Tennis, badminton and pickleball are considered non-contact sports. There are plenty of courts around that offer free play. Many parks have tennis courts or outdoor pickleball courts or places to set up a badminton net for some fun.

Community swimming pools are open and ready to provide an afternoon of fun for the family. It’s even more fun if a family member has a pool and offers a pool party for July 4.

Walking, biking, hiking and running are all non-contact sports and can be experienced in many of the area parks. Get a family group together for a walk or hike and then have a great meal together either in the park or at one of the restaurants or drive up eateries.

Shopping

Belden Village has reopened. The stores on The Strip have reopened and many small business retailers are back and offering social distancing shopping in a clean and sanitized environment. Jackson Township is packed full of all kinds of retail store.

Make the shopping trip an adventure and visit some of the retailers that may be out of the norm for the family. For example, stop in at one of the gift shops in one of the local museums or one of the hobby craft stores around the area.

Eating out

So many of the area’s great eateries are open with social distancing and sanitizing procedures in place to keep everyone safe and to allow everyone to enjoy a meal together. Many of the drive-in restaurants like Swenson’s have been open and have stayed busy through the shutdown.

This can also be an adventure by selecting a restaurant that the family hasn’t tried before or hasn’t been to in a while. Don’t forget to top off the family meal with a stop at one of the ice cream places.

Another fun thing to try when eating is to ask for the outdoor seating. Most area restaurants do offer some outdoor seating options.

And, many of the favorite food trucks have been parking in select places as a group and offering everything from fair foods to gourmet meals. This is a must try for the July 4 weekend. Jackson Township’s North Park is hosting food trucks every Wednesday afternoon and early evenings.

Entertainment

Drive-in movie theatres have emerged as a popular way to watch a movie together as a family. While Stark County doesn’t have a drive in theater, there are several in nearby counties such as is the Magic City Drive-In in Barberton, Blue Sky Drive In in Wadsworth, Midway Twin Drive-In in Ravenna and the Lynn Auto Theatre in Strasburg.

The Canton Palace Theatre is hosting drive-in movies in its parking lot two blocks south of the theater and adjacent to the Renkert Building at 306 Market Ave. N. The Palace Theatre is showing family friendly films every Friday night and classics on Saturday nights through Aug. 8. Purchase tickets online and movie goers can order family packs of concessions online and pick them up the night of the movie.

Many of the local museums are reopening in late June including the Massillon Museum, the Canton Museum of Art and others. Visit their websites for hours. The Akron Zoo and the Cleveland Zoos have also reopened. Check their websites for hours. Take note, some of the zoos are by reservation only.

The backyard

Of course, there is always plenty of fun to be found in the backyard. Barbeques, picnics, cornhole games or if possible, move a television outdoors and the family can watch a movie together in the backyard or on the patio. Pitching a tent in the backyard offers a fun overnight option for the family and some friends.

Some online sites are recommending using individual servings for home party goers or assigning one person to serve food to everyone and ask that person to wear a mask while around the food or use gloves to serve.

There are plenty of fun activities in the area. Part of the fun can be researching and planning a different outing each day of the July 4th weekend. Hopefully, the parades, fireworks, fairs and runs will be back next year.

Eating out at one of the drive in eateries or stop by the many ice cream places over July 4th weekend can be a fun way to celebrate the summer holiday.