But no parade, other festivities
There will be no parade through downtown Ellijay this Fourth of July, confirmed representatives from the City of Ellijay and the Downtown Ellijay Business and Community Association (DEBCA).
“People are in such close proximity lining up and watching it, I don’t think anybody felt it would be safe to do that,” said Ellijay Mayor Al Hoyle.
“It was a pretty simple decision. We’ve already canceled several big events here. We would rather not do it this year and be able to do it next year,” said Cynthia Michel, DEBCA vice- president.
There also won’t be a downtown celebration in the city parking lot and boardwalk area this year, Michel noted.
“Typically, we do the parade and have all kinds of festivities for children, vendors, crafts, food and a big Fourth of July party. None of it will be taking place, but, to the best of my knowledge, stores will be open for visitors to come and shop. We (also) encourage people to wear masks,” she added.
Not all Independence Day events have been canceled, however. The city’s evening firework display will take place, confirmed Ellijay Chief of Police Ed Lacey.
Fireworks will begin at dark, around 8:30-9 p.m., and will be launched from the usual location around the Ellijay Elementary and Clear Creek Elementary School campuses.
“We ask that everybody be respectful of private property as they look for locations to view the fireworks, to have permission for where they park and not park in the road,” Lacey said.
Watching the fireworks from within the downtown roundabout won’t be an option this year, Lacey noted.
“We won’t be blocking the roundabout to traffic like we did last year. Normally, we would have a parade and the barricades would still be up from the parade,” he added.
“We’re encouraging people to view the fireworks from their cars. There are plenty of places to park where you can see (them),” Michel noted. “Take a picnic basket and put it in your car or you can go down to the park and everybody sit six or more feet apart in their groups. We’re just encouraging everyone to be really safe.”
To make exiting downtown an easier process, Ellijay Police will be working an alternative traffic plan immediately following the firework show.
“We’ll be pushing traffic away from town to help all motorists get out of town as quickly as possible. In the past, it’s taken hours to clear McCutchen Street, but the last several years we’ve turned traffic facing out of town so we can clear it (faster). We ask motorists to be patient with us and understand that the fastest way out of town is not necessarily the shortest way out of town,” Lacey said.
“Everybody that’s parked on the south end, we’re going to head south. Everybody on the west end, we’re going to head west. The east end will head east and the north end will head north. The goal is, in about 20-30 minutes, we’ll be able to open up all roadways so people can come through town, ” he added.
In regard to practicing social distancing, Lacey said “we’re asking people to be aware of and follow any regulations that might be in place.”