OREGON -- Fourth of July celebrations took place in a variety of ways on Saturday, as most traditional parades and gatherings were cancelled this year due to the pandemic.
The city of Harrisburg held a Fourth of July parade, but it looked different than years past. This was a “reverse parade” aimed to keep everyone safe and distant. Participants built floats in their front yards and outside of businesses and attendees had the chance to see them as they drove by.
“It’s a lot smaller this year than it has been,” participant Betty Britton said. “We tried to keep it down. Usually we have maybe 50 people. This year we have 10. Some may not be too happy, but it’s just the way it is.”
Her daughter, Lori McKay, said this tradition means a lot to her family despite it looking different this year.
“My family has lived in this house for 57 years or so,” McKay said. “We have been in every single parade my entire childhood. My mom, growing up as a kid was in the parade. Her siblings and all of my siblings and all of my children. We’ve done it every single year.”
Thousands of people normally attend Creswell's parade, which was cancelled this year. However, residents threw an unofficial celebration instead.
There was very little social distancing or mask usage at this celebration, according to our KEZI 9 News reporter on scene.
Some participants tell us they're using this celebration as an opportunity to speak up about what they see as challenges to their freedoms.
“To have protests today while they are shutting down fireworks tells me that there are two agendas going on,” Thurston resident Marvin Cosby said. “We want our voices to be heard as well. I represent the silent majority in America.”
A parade of cars and floats filled Creswell streets Saturday as many aimed to keep the celebrations alive.
There were others who used today as a way to rally for change.
About one hundred people gathered at the Federal Courthouse in Eugene to protest the Trump Administration's policy of family separation at the border. They also called for the abolition of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, otherwise known as ICE.
Organizers say the Fourth of July is a day to celebrate freedom, and they want to make sure that freedom is shared by everyone.
“It is our right to stand up and protest and none of us are free unless all of us are free. That's why we are here today,” organizer Catie Cinton said.
The group also raised money for refugees, who they say, are fleeing genocide overseas which is funded by the U.S. Government.
Joel Iboa is the Coalition Manager for 'One Oregon.'
"On the Fourth of July, it's important that we love America,” Iboa said. “But it's also important that we love all Americans. That includes immigrants. That includes the black folks in this country. This movement stands in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement."
Others chose a slower and quieter pace this holiday. Alton Baker Park was filled with people dropping by to get some fresh air.
“I'm spending time walking my dog,” Eugene resident Edward Morrison said. “We like to walk the park. We wanted to see how many people were coming out today. It's not the same as it was last year, but we sure enjoy the nice day.”
Experts warn of the risks that come with large gatherings and advise that the community remains safe and smart while celebrating this holiday weekend.