Due to COVID-19 health concerns and rising infection rates in North Carolina, Lake Junaluska will postpone the fireworks display planned for the Fourth of July to a later date to be determined.
Ken Howle, executive director of Lake Junaluska, shared more about the decision in an email sent Friday, June 12, to the Lake Junaluska community. An excerpt from the letter is below:
June 12, 2020
Dear Lake Junaluska Community,
The following is an update regarding our ongoing response to COVID-19. There are currently 41,249 confirmed cases of the virus in North Carolina and 65 known cases in Haywood County.
Earlier this week, we shared that we would continue working with local officials to determine what is best for the overall safety of the community in regards to whether to move forward with a fireworks display on July 4th. After in-depth discussions with Haywood County officials and community leaders, the decision has been made to postpone the fireworks display until later in 2020.
With cases of COVID-19 rising in North Carolina, we continue to receive encouragement from state and local officials to reduce the number of people gathering and to maintain social distancing. The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reported that today, June 12, we had the highest single-day increase in North Carolina since the beginning of the pandemic. While we understand that it is possible to have a fireworks display and maintain social distancing, we also know that our fireworks display is one of the largest annual mass gatherings in Haywood County. We do not feel it is responsible to encourage a mass gathering of thousands of people, knowing that there is the potential for an even larger crowd to gather this year as the result of firework display cancellations in neighboring counties.
Understandably, this is disappointing news to hear. Like many of our decisions over the past several months we placed public health as one of our top priorities. Because we are in a contractual relationship with our fireworks technicians, there is no direct savings by postponing or not having the fireworks on July 4th. A secondary reason for the postponement is that we feel it is important to do our part to help reopen the economy by following the guidelines provided by our local and state officials. Even without the fireworks, we can be a place where families join together and memories are still made.
Our mission is to be a place of Christian hospitality where lives are transformed through renewal of soul, mind and body. Each and every day we are working to live into this mission and we must do so in new and creative ways. Traditionally, the majority of our hospitality offerings have been in service to large gatherings of people; yet, that is not the reality we find ourselves in today.
The coming weeks will look different than summers past, with some events and activities moving online while others move outdoors. As we replace our handshakes, hugs and high-fives with friendly hellos and gather in smaller numbers, we do so with a spirit of resiliency and hope. There is much to look forward to this summer, from our upcoming Lake Junaluska Day on June 25 to our Summer Activities Program that begins in a few short weeks.
For updates, keep an eye out for the Junaluska Weekly newsletter or review our website at https://www.lakejunaluska.com/events/summer_activities_program/.
Lake Junaluska Communications