October 18, 2021

New twists to mark Fourth

Groton, Cortland set for fireworks; Declaration reading in Homer

Bob Ellis/file photo

Dwyer Memorial Park is alight with fireworks in this file photo.

Catching a baseball game, attending a parade and watching fireworks are all traditional events to celebrate the nation’s independence from Great Britain.

This year though, things will be a little different as the coronavirus pandemic has changed the way we live our everyday lives, nevermind celebrate national holidays.

In Cortland County, some events will remain to celebrate the holiday but will be altered to abide by state and national health guidelines.

Residents around the city will still get to experience the traditional fireworks show on Friday 3, though this year it will not be held at Dwyer Memorial Park, said Eric Mulvihill, clerk of the Cortland County Legislature.

Instead, it will be held at an undisclosed location east of the city to discourage people from gathering closeby and potentially spreading or contracting COVID-19.

The fireworks though, which are scheduled to begin around 10:15 p.m., will be visible to most of the city.

“My suspicion is this site is going to work so well that we will have a little bit of a competition about going back to the park,” he said.

Mulvihill said the county, which is helping to put on the fireworks with the Cortland County Visitors and Convention Bureau, was hoping to have an all-day celebration at the park with food trucks and music, but had to cancel that because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The new setup though will allow for more explosive fireworks, he said. “It’s going to be well visible to the greater Cortland area.”

He recommended that pet owners secure their pets before the show and that people just be aware that the event is taking place so as not to startle them.

“I think it’s going to be exciting and something to look forward to,” he said. “If you like fireworks, I think you’re going to get a darn good show.”

The village of Homer will continue its traditional reading of the Declaration of Independence, said Village Clerk Dan Egnor. This time though it will take place at 10 a.m. on the steps of the Church on the Green -next to the Village Green — instead of its traditional spot inside the Center for the Arts, according to the village’s website.

Egnor was unsure if there would be any other events happening on or before Independence Day in the village but plans might be discussed at tonight’s Board of Trustees meeting.

Additionally, no bells will be rung or a cannon will be fired, which happened previously, only a short introduction and reading of the document by Charles “Chip” Jermy III and his father, Charles “Bud” Jermy Jr.

“It’s a matter of taking us back and reminding us we are still here,” the younger Jermy III said. “This is still the document that pulls us together. This is the document that helps us become what we still aspire to be and probably fail miserably at. But we wake up another day as a country and try to get closer to that more perfect union.”

In years past, the duo has had around 100 people attend their reading and discussion of the document and the history leading up to it, but they expect it to be smaller this year because of COVID-19.

“I think we’re disappointed because we won’t have that participation” of years past where attendees read parts of the document, the elder Jermy said.

“We’ll do it differently with social distancing and with less participation because it’s important and because it needs to be done,” the younger Jermy said.

In Tompkins County, a fireworks show will be after dark Thursday in Groton at a field between Clark Street and Lick Street, north of Route 222 and south of Old Stage Road, according to the Groton Fire Department and Ambulance’s Facebook page.

The field will not be accessible to the public and fire personnel will be the only ones in the field, though the show will be visible across most of the town. Watchers throughout the town should look to the northeast.