BELMONT, N.C. — The city of Belmont celebrated Independence Day on a smaller scale this year due to the pandemic on Saturday.
The city canceled its Red, White, and Belmont Festival, which included parades, a concert, and a fireworks show. This year, the city had the fireworks show and closed down two blocks of Main Street for street dining or "al fresco dining."
The program that started when North Carolina entered phase two, allowing downtown restaurants to set tables outside. Since North Carolina restaurants can only operate at half capacity, this set-up enables businesses to serve more customers.
Gracia Acheson, who attended the event with her children, was excited about the event.
"I appreciate that they put behind it to allow people to celebrate still and do stuff while remaining socially distant and following the rules," Acheson said.
Belmont Mayor Pro-Tem Jim Hefferan said city officials wanted to keep the fireworks show to exemplify how people could still come together as a community while staying safe.
"It's an opportunity to see that life goes on, to enjoy a celebration of our country, but to remain mindful of the circumstances that we are in and the need to continue to take appropriate precautions. Hopefully, next year's celebration will look a little bit more what we are used to," Hefferan said.
Old Stone Steakhouse General Manager and Head Chef Casey McElwaine said he's grateful for being able to offer this dining experience on July 4.
"I think it's pretty iconic. You get to eat a nice meal and watch an Independence Day display," McElwaine said.
July 4 also marks the last night the al fresco dining will take place in Belmont for now. McElwaine said it was very successful the Fridays and Saturdays it was offered.
"I think the city of Belmont is genius for allowing this to go on. They and Creative Solutions put together a phenomenal al fresco dining experience to help struggling restaurants, increase our revenue, and also for people to enjoy the great city of Belmont," McElwaine said.
Attendees were asked to wear masks and follow social distancing guidelines during the event.
The fireworks show, which started at 9:30 p.m., was also visible from parking lot churches and Gaant Park.