GL Fourth of July parade, fine arts show and triathlon canceled as result of COVID-19

FIREWORKS REFLECT ON the waters of Dartford Bay as Green Lake commemorates the Declaration of Independence. Joe Schulz photo

by Joe Schulz

Green Lake’s summer event calendar continues to shift, as the Green Lake Fine Arts Show, Green Lake Triathlon and annual Fourth of July parade through downtown Green Lake have all been canceled.

This year’s Independence Day celebration will feature fireworks and music from local artist Dan Braaksma in Deacon Mills Park beginning at 5:30 p.m.

The announcements came at a meeting Wednesday, June 3 that gathered event coordinators and community leaders in an effort to get everyone on the same page as they navigate the new normal created by COVID-19.

At the meeting, Town Square announced it will be moving ahead with Camp Chocolate, a summer program that teaches children the art of chocolate making, by ensuring social distance between participants and providing facemasks.

PREPARING THEIR CAKE pops for sale last year during Camp Chocolate are Green Lake kids, from left, Elliat Zodrow, 11, Anna Johnson, 11, and Lauren Egbert, 13. The event is on for this year. Hannah Tetzlaff photo

The Thrasher Opera House has rescheduled the Second City comedy show from July to Friday, December 11. Thrasher has hosted Second City the same weekend in July for 13 years.

“Financially, Thrasher can’t do a show if we can’t attempt to fill the house, so it’s best for us to reschedule our larger shows,” Thrasher Executive Director Rachael Avery said of the decision.

She noted the opera house will host the first of its pop-up concerts July 10. The event has already sold out, but more will be announced as the summer progresses.

Thrasher is also having early discussions about converting its annual Party For the Arts gala into a virtual event, with a decision to be announced next month. 

While the beginning of the meeting was used to revise the community’s event calendar, the bulk of the discussion centered around the logistics of this year’s Fourth of July celebration.

Green Lake Police Chief Jason Reysen noted attendance for Green Lake’s event could be up as much as 50% because of other cancellations in the area and the holiday falling on a Saturday this year.

“I don’t think we’ll have a problem with it,” he said. “We’re pretty good about getting cars out of town at the end of the night and that’s the only thing that can generally turn into a problem.”

As the discussion continued, Green Lake Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Lisa Beck was torn about whether to host the traditional parade.

“I’m afraid we’ll have a 15-minute parade,” Beck said. “I don’t think anyone is expecting [a parade]; they’re shocked that we’re still doing fireworks.”

Community leaders didn’t know how many organizations would be marching in the parade, as it was unclear if the American Legion, the Boy Scouts or the Green Lake School Band would be available.

“If we’re not going to have the Legion, and the pomp and circumstance, who’s going to lead it?” Mayor Ray Radis asked.

Reysen added: “It’s not the same without the flags, and without the veterans.”

Ultimately, the decision was made to cancel the parade through downtown Green Lake.

“If we’re the only one in Green Lake County with fireworks, which it sounds like we’re going to be, we’re still going to get some people that never came before,” Reysen said. “And we’re going to have a bigger crowd than usual just because we have Saturday fireworks.”