Locals were still able to get out Fourth of July festivities amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In Grayson, those who braved the 90-degree heat enjoyed free food and fireworks from Tres Hermanos; and in Boyd County, carloads, truckloads and vanloads were able to enjoy the second day of the Paramount Arts Center’s outdoor drive-in music concert, and listen to premium country music courtesy of Jamey Johnson, Arlo McKinley and Josh Brown and the Hard Livin’ Legends.
“We’re giving away free burritos and drinks before the fireworks tonight,” Jennifer Nunez of Tres Hermanos said Saturday evening. “We want everyone to be nice and full before the show starts tonight.”
Owner Misael Nunez echoed his daughter’s thoughts and added that he just wanted the free food and entertainment to be his way of giving back to the community. Nunez did have T-shirts on hand which event attendees could purchase if they chose to do so.
“It’s just a little something for the community,” Jennifer Nunez said. “It's to help cheer them up after all of the stress and problems caused by the COVID pandemic.”
“We just want everyone to have a great time,” Misael said. “We’ve been doing this about five years, but this year is special because people really need it. And I marked off everything myself to make sure people could keep the 6-foot social distance to stay safe and have fun.” He said there was room for 1,000 people.
Mary Felty and Shawn Clark were among the local residents who showed up for the event and drove from Greenup County to attend. Mary Felty said she went to the Tres Hermanos restaurant in Greenup regularly, and was looking forward to an evening of fun.
“I think it’s wonderful,” Felty said. “The food is really good, and this is one of the few options to see fireworks this year. We’re really looking forward to it. And I think it’s wonderful they are doing this for the community.”
Heading out of Grayson and into Cannonsburg, event attendees were lined up for what would have been the equivalent of multiple city blocks as vehicle loads of people from all around the area waited (relatively) patiently to enter the venue where country music drew people in to the Paramount’s outdoor concert, and of course fireworks — at midnight. Backed up through at least two traffic lights, almost filling the intervening space between Walmart and the venue, people had arrived in throngs at least 30 minutes before the 7 p.m. start of the concert.
Casey Crum drove one of the vehicles lined up for the concert.
“We’re just looking for a night of family fun and entertainment in the county,” Crum said before the show. “Jamey Johnson is top of the line. There’s 10 of us, and we plan to sit out in our chairs and listen to some great music. We’ve got VIP tickets, so we’ll be right up close to the action. Up until now it has just been family time at home. But now we can get out safely and have some good times out in public.”
Chad Hamilton grew up locally, but currently works construction out of Richmond. He said he had anticipated the event since he had heard about it and made plans to “come home” to listen to some good music. Hamilton said that he has been fortunate enough to continue working through the pandemic but has not been able to get out socially due to the restrictions. Saturday’s event, he said, was a welcomed change.
“We’re going to listen to good music and have a great time,” Hamilton said, to a chorus of “Jamey Johnson!” from his passengers.
Clint Wellman, owner of CK Tires in Kenova, went so far as to rent a U-Haul van for the event — and brought 16 of his friends along with him. Wellman said that the 16 passengers weren’t strangers, but rather a close-knit group of friends who ride together and do other activities.
“We’re here to see Jamey Johnson and Arlo McKinley,” Wellman said. “And Josh Brown, too — he's a local. We went to hear him a handful of times.”
Wellman said the van rental (and the accompanying cost per mile) was well worth it.
“Unless they see how many we have and don’t let us in,” he added, laughing. But he admitted that was not a real concern and didn’t expect anything to dampen his and his passenger’s good time.
Events such as these are proof that there is still fun to be had during the serious times if it is done safely with concern for others.