MOUNT DORA, Fla. – Signs that read “Stars and stripes and BOGO buys” lined the sidewalks in Mount Dora Friday, instead of the hundreds of people usually downtown on a big Fourth of July weekend.
Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Mount Dora city officials canceled Friday night’s Freedom at the Waterfront fireworks show, as well as the Fourth of July parade that was scheduled for Saturday morning.
“It’s just hard,” cried Lisa Winslow, owner of Home and Garden Treasures. “Fourth of July is a holiday -- it’s a weekend. It only happens once every seven years and I need a boost, it’s summer.”
Weeks ago, Winslow created a petition and collected 59 signatures of fellow business owners fighting to keep the Independence Day events on.
“I went to city council and I presented it,” she said.
However, Mount Dora city officials decided to cancel the weekend events and after seeing the recent spike in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases, Winslow now believes it’s the right decision.
“At first, I was selfish and I really, really wanted the boost for the economy and now health is more important. With more than 10,000 new cases a day, it’s the smart thing to do,” Winslow said.
Across the street, Akhtar Hussain, owner of the Village Coffee Pot, said he is down 60% in sales this year compared to last year. However, he believes it is better for the community in the long run to cancel the events now.
“If you look short-sightedness, yes, it’s bad, but if you look at the bigger picture, this is good in the long run,” he said. “This pandemic is beyond our control, but what can we do to save ourselves, our community, our friends, our parents, our grandparents? That is all we can do. We have to save this country.”
He also said this July 4, he’s more grateful than ever.
"This nation gives immigrants like me a lot," Hussain said with tears in his eyes. "But we love this country. What is best for this country? That is what matters to me."
City officials said they do plan to have a fireworks show at their rescheduled Founders Day event some time in September, but warned it could be moved again if the case numbers continue to rise.
On Friday, the Florida Department of Health reported 9,488 new cases statewide. Those numbers came just one day after Florida broke its record for the highest number of cases reported in a single day with more than 10,100 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported Thursday.