It's a 'personal choice': Ripley Mayor says it's up to participants if they social distance or wear masks

Katelyn Waltemyer
Jackson Newspapers
This year's fireworks are scheduled for Saturday at 10 p.m.

The blue X's are gone from the sidewalks and people in Jackson County are itching to partake in this year's Fourth of July Celebration in Ripley. This year's celebration will not have obvious COVID-19 precautions like last year's and Ripley Mayor Carolyn Rader said it's a "personal choice" if people want to come and socially distance or wear masks. 

According to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources COVID-19 vaccine summary, 37.7% of Jackson County's population is fully vaccinated. Rader said she believes many people who plan to attend the celebration have been vaccinated.

"People respect each other's personal choices," Rader said. "If they would feel more comfortable with a mask, my goodness, wear them." 

Even though West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice has lifted the mask mandate, Amy Haskins, a Jackson County Health Department official, said it's still important for people to remain "vigilant" when attending large gatherings, even if they're outside. 

"You don't know who has not been vaccinated that will be around you," Haskins said. "it would be best to be cautious in that arena with so many people coming to town." 

Ripley's Fourth of July Celebration is known as the "Largest Small Town Independence Day Celebration." Rader said Ripley goes from a town of 3,000 to about 10,000 during the celebration, especially the day of the grand parade and fireworks. 

— Katelyn Waltemyer (she/her) is the General Assignment and Enterprise Reporter for Jackson Newspapers in Jackson County, West Virginia. Have a news tip on local government or education? Or a good feature? You can reach Katelyn at kwaltemyer@jacksonnewspapers.com. Follow her on Twitter @Kate_Waltemyer.