Oh, say can you see…any fireworks this year?
As the year of COVID-19 marches into July, thoughts turn to safe celebration of the national holiday.
As large public gatherings of any kind bring the risk of exposure to the virus, fireworks displays are not immune to cancellation as safe practices are considered.
This year there will be no fireworks to view from Eaton Ferry Bridge. Popular large displays coordinated by private individuals are not happening this year. But there is one intrepid group determined to provide a fiery display on the Fourth of July.
The EXILED Motorcycle Club formed out of natural friendships beginning in 2008. At first, a group of friends gathered together for camaraderie, enjoying the company of those with shared community, shared values and, of course, a shared love of riding their bikes.
Over the years, these friends and their families created close bonds, traveling together, spending important occasions together, holding cookouts and shooting off a few fireworks.
Before long, the group began to outgrow anyone’s backyard as the attendees increased to 400 to 500 people.
Justin Steffey, a founding member, explained that his father-in-law, who owned Wings Trucking in Bracey, Va., offered his lot for the expanding Fourth of July celebrations.
When that lot was no longer available, the group did not have to look far to find a new location. They were approached by Furr’s Deli and Dogs, who offered space behind their business on 50 Golf Drive in Bracey.
But more needs to be said about the mission of EXILED. Shooting off fireworks is not the main focus of this community-minded group.
These bikers live by the promise to “never let a brother or member of the community stand alone in a time of need.”
Every year on the first weekend in October, EXILED holds “You’re Not Alone Day,” an effort to raise money for members of the community in need. The effort started out helping one person with health issues. Last year, three families benefited from the generosity of EXILED and the Bracey community.
Fundraising includes a Poker Run, a bake sale and yard sale.
This year, EXILED will be launching a full fireworks display. Viewing in recommended from downtown Bracey, ideally between Golf Drive and 903, and begin at dark around 9 p.m.
Food will be available for purchase at Furr’s, Topper’s Pizza, Subway and other local eateries.
If you plan to join this celebration, remember that Virginia requires facemasks, and social distancing is encouraged. So come out and enjoy the fireworks, but remember to give back to the Bracey community that first weekend in October.