To encourage social distancing amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Texas A&M University System hosted “drive-in” fireworks at the RELLIS Campus on Saturday night.
While hundreds of cars parked at the campus, hundreds more were stationed along the shoulders and medians of nearby roads to catch the display, which was synced to patriotic music broadcast by WTAW. The fireworks show was simulcast on KBTX-TV.
According to a statement from System Chancellor John Sharp, Bryan Mayor Andrew Nelson asked whether the RELLIS Campus could be the spot for a socially distanced fireworks show after the annual event at the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum was canceled.
“Bring your family. All we ask is stay with your vehicle and stay safe. Who knows? Drive-In Fireworks may become the new tradition,” Sharp said in the statement posted to the RELLIS Campus website.
Those who arrived to watch the fireworks show seemed happy to be able to get out of the house for the holiday.
“Personally, I don’t really go out much, but this is nice for me,” said College Station resident Devon Chenier, who attended the show with his friend, Brittany Cude, a senior at Texas A&M. The two had arrived an hour early for the show and parked adjacent to a building at the campus.
Recent A&M graduate Jacob Jackson of College Station brought his wife, Rayni, out to the RELLIS Campus, where they sat close together on the open tailgate of their pickup, positioned near the fireworks launch site.
“This is the first thing we’ve done event-wise in a really long time,” Jacob Jackson said.
San Antonio resident Lori O’Quin drove several hours to be at the RELLIS campus parking lot with her daughters Madison, a junior at Texas A&M, and Gracie, an incoming freshman at the university. Gracie and her mother sat atop the family’s Jeep to gain a better view of the show.
“During these times, there are not a lot of other options for things to do, and this seemed like a good option,” Lori O’Quin said.
Organizations across the Brazos Valley hosted Independence Day celebrations on Saturday. The Brazos County VFD District 2 held their 17th annual Kurten fireworks show and fundraiser at the Kurten Community Center, where attendees were asked to stay in their cars and social distance.
In Navasota, the community celebrated with a Freedom Festival hosted by the city, an all-day event that included a parade, concerts, cornhole tournament, vendors, kids’ activities and a firework show. Free masks, gloves and hand sanitizer were passed out by the city government.