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Baton Rouge gearing up for unusual 4th of July

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BATON ROUGE - Fourth of July celebrations are going to look a lot different for Baton Rouge. 

Due to financial concerns, staff at the USS Kidd scrapped plans for their annual festival on the levee. 

"That was definitely something during the year that a lot of people look forward to," Brian Septs said.

Each year, Septs celebrates the Fourth of July with the USS Kidd's festival along the levee.  Watching the fireworks with his family was his favorite part.

"It's a large group activity that everyone enjoyed," Sept said.

But Fourth of July celebrations won't be the same for Baton Rouge this year. Because of public health concerns and a city-parish ban on large-scale events, museum staff say they are calling it all off.

"To encourage large groups is not a healthy thing to do right now, so we made the decision to not have those activities," Executive Director Rosehn Gipe.

Gipe says things have been tough since the coronavirus shut down operations back in March. The museum is open now, but she says they've lost an estimated $200,000 in revenue and cannot host the festival.

"Typically in a year, that revenue carries us through the slow times of the year, mainly the summer and early fall. Not having that revenue has really changed the outlook on our budget for this year," Gipe said.

Due to the impacts of coronavirus on suppliers, museum projects such as the Manship Deck have been delayed. Instead of it's original July 4 opening, the project is expected to be complete in late summer.

"A lot of those special projects that we thought about doing are filed away right now and put on hold," Gipe said.

This was set to be a big year for the USS Kidd. A Tom Hanks movie shot there, 'Greyhound', was moved from theaters to a streaming release. And the Kidd was hoping to raise money to get the WWII-era destroyer into dry dock for important maintenance. 

"We do have a long-term project for the USS Kidd to take her to a dry dock. We don't anticipate that happening for the next three to five years. That was our plan prior to the closure," Gipe said.

As for Septs, he's hoping that longtime traditions will be back in 2021.

"People not being able to commune like they used to is a change that nobody was prepared for," Septs said. 

WBRZ will broadcast a primetime event Saturday, July 4. More details will be released later this month. You can find more details here: https://www.wbrz.com/news/wbrz-to-produce-july-4th-fireworks-tv-special-after-virus-cancels-levee-viewing-of-annual-br-event/

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