ORANGE PARK – The Moosehaven retirement community in Orange Park is doing everything it can to protect its residents from the COVID-19 pandemic. For local residents, that means a two-month delay in its annual Fourth of July fireworks show.
By order of Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida Department of health, all long-term health care facilities are closed to the public. The only visits allowed are compassionate visits by family members of residents who are dying. Initially, that order was expected to last until May 31, and there is still uncertainty as to when the order will be lifted, but it has now been extended until July 7.
“That means we can’t have any visitors on campus,” said outgoing Moosehaven CEO John Capes. “We contacted the scheduled our featured entertainer [musician Jimmy Allen], and we contacted the fireworks guy and gave them agreements that we would keep the same contracts and move the celebration to Labor Day.”
The expectation is that by then, the campus will be reopened.
Typically, Moosehaven’s July 4 celebration begins around 5 p.m. and has two local entertainers, followed by a featured entertainer who performs from about 8 p.m. until sundown. Immediately following sunset, is the fireworks demonstration.
The celebration also usually features 10 or 12 different food trucks to give the residents lots of different flavors from which to choose.
The Moosehaven residents have been sequestered with almost no outside interaction, and with one of the big annual celebrations moved back over two months, one would expect a less than amiable response.
Surprisingly, not so, according to Capes.
“Residents have been really good,” he said. “They’ve actually been locked up on campus throughout this whole thing. They’ve been pretty good, and they understand. They understand why we’re doing it. They understand we’re doing it to protect them. So it’s been pretty positive.”
The residents will have to continue to be patient and await the all-clear signal from state leadership. Hopefully, it will come in time to enjoy a hybrid July 4 fireworks celebration, even if it’s on Labor Day.