Blanding residents will celebrate freedom in private Fourth of July events on July 3 and 4

When the Blanding City Council decided on May 26 that the City of Blanding would cancel the annual Fourth of July celebration due to COVID-19 restrictions, it immediately set off a flurry of activity that put a new celebration on the Blanding calendar for July 3 and 4.

A group of Blanding residents and businesses, led by Toniee Lewis, banded together to organize a private event that will celebrate American freedom, stand against a loss of freedom, and ensure that a big Fourth of July party won’t be missing in Blanding this year.

“Free to Be Me” is the theme of the celebration, which will provide plenty of fun for individuals and families alike, even though it won’t culminate with the traditional fireworks show.

The event is set to open with an Off Highway Vehicle (OHV) poker run beginning at the Blanding Visitors Center at 6 p.m. on Friday, July 3. Several residents and businesses have donated what Lewis called “not small prizes” for winners of the poker run.

Individuals and families can enjoy a drive-in movie in the high school parking lot on Friday night at 9:30 p.m.

Independence Day kicks off at 8 a.m. on Saturday, July 4 with a flag ceremony at the Blanding Cemetery. In lieu of a traditional parade, due to complications related to traffic control, COVID-19 safety etiquette, and liability, organizers have opted for a “Ride on Main Street” beginning at 10 a.m.

For safety, no candy will be tossed out of windows, but participants are encouraged to decorate their “rides” festively. From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, booth and food vendors will offer activities, wares, and food to attendees on the private property of Cheryl Bowers at 132 South Main Street.

In a Facebook post, Bowers stated, “We will be combining this with a grand opening of the new Blue Sage Inn and Suites and hope for a large, safe celebration of our freedoms.”

She listed several vendors who signed up to take part in the event, including the Taco Truck, Navajo Taco booth, and tattoo and face painting booths.

Bowers wrote, “Cold Cave and the Hillbilly Snow Shack will open, and Ben Haws Hawaiian will be open at CB’s.”

The Southway Mini Mart will serve $5 drive-thru chicken teriyaki bowls from noon to 2 p.m.

The evening wraps up at the Lynn Stevens Arena, near Blue Mountain Road north of town, where audiences can enjoy Gymkhana Horse Games.

Lewis listed numerous individuals who helped organize the event, including Nikki Safrit, Cheryl Bowers, Reagan Workman, Betty Workman, Linda Sullenberger, Lynn Stevens, Karen Wright, Lyle Bayles, Josh Nielson, Katie Shumway, and Julie Tate.

Lewis explained, “We picked the theme ‘Free to Be Me’ because we want to be able to express our freedom and know we have those rights still intact. I’m hoping everybody who is willing and understands the significance of our freedom will come out and be part of this.”

She also pointed out that event organizers understand the COVID-19 pandemic is serious and Blanding City officials’ hands were tied when it came to sponsoring the annual Fourth of July celebration.

Social distancing will be practiced at every activity during the celebration. Lewis said attendees are encouraged to wear masks. Curbside service will be available from some of the food providers.

Lewis said the annual Fourth of July celebration is one of the best things about Blanding and although “it’s not going to be the gigantic turnout we’ve had in previous years, we can try to keep the tradition going.”

For more information on the “Free to Be Me” Fourth of July Celebration in Blanding, call Toniee Lewis at 435-459-2023 or see the ads on this page.

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