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Calendar preview: A fuse for freedom 

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July 4, 2020: What will it be? What will it have been? Will the revelation be a spectacular burst of fireworks?

Well, perhaps — but they won't be coming from the City of Rochester or any other municipality, which have all cancelled this year's official displays. No pomp, no parties; no patriotic piccolos will accompany grand displays for large, concentrated gatherings — but we'll likely hear the unofficial fireworks wherever we are. Perhaps we'll get a glittery glimpse now and then.

In any case, July 4 will still have celebrations, commemorations, and conversations. What fuse will be lit in our minds and hearts as we contemplate the concept of Independence? 

Local cultural institutions continue to cautiously re-open this week, including Ganondagan State Historic Site and The National Susan B. Anthony Museum & House. Visitors are encouraged to become familiar with re-opening procedures, such as physical distancing, wearing a mask, and, in many cases, purchasing tickets in advance.

On Saturday, July 4, Genesee Country Village & Museum's Independence Day Celebration will be outdoors, old-timey, and full of bunting, cake, and historic artisan demonstrations. This trip to the 19th century will feature a reading of the Declaration of Independence as well as a recreation of the historic rebuttal, first delivered in Rochester in 1852. Revered local actor David Shakes will appear as Frederick Douglass and ask, "What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July?"

Many generations later, the question persists. The declarative "Black Lives Still Matter: An Outdoor Long Table Installation" will infuse art, activism, and conversation on July 4, from 2 to 5 p.m., to continue the Blackout Summer Series presented by 21st Century Arts: Activating Art & Justice. This event will be live streamed as it takes place in the parking lot of Flying Squirrel Community Space, the site of the historic Elks Lodge established by Black Rochesterians a century ago on Clarissa Street, in the heart of Rochester's first Black neighborhood.

Some might opt to Blackout the 4th with ROC Freedom Riders. This bike ride starts at 10 a.m. on July 4, meeting at B+ Healthy Fresh Food Market, 442 Genesee Street. Participants are urged to wear black for this event, which is expressly designed for people to be "riding to Black spaces, supporting Black places, and acknowledging Black faces." Registration is required, and don't forget a mask and water.

If your 4th is not complete without symphonic fanfare, Greece Performing Arts Society will stream its July 4th Spectacular at 7 p.m. This is the first in the GPAS 2020 Virtual Concert Series, which will continue through early October. The performance is free, but donations will be accepted to support this community arts organization.

Keep up to date with full listings of local online events on the CITY Events Calendar. Do you have an event you wish to include? You can submit online, or email event information to

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