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LAND OF THE FREE: Minnesotans enjoy Independence Day in new ways

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Downtown Harmony

HARMONY, Minn. (KTTC) - Despite coronavirus concerns cancelling most of southern Minnesota's fourth of July celebrations, one small town in Fillmore County keeps the patriotic spirit alive.

However as with most things recently, even the holiday looked a little different this year.

After its grand opening last 4th of July, Harmony Spirits had to change a few things this year.

"Everything. Pretty much our whole business structure changed," said Jim Simpson, co-owner and distiller at Harmony Spirits. "We made hand sanitizer. Something we've never attempted or thought about until the COVID-19 situation."

Cancelling Harmony's Fourth of July celebration was something the town had never thought about either, until this year.

"We don't have Harmony Days or anything like that. It's the Fourth of July here. That is a big deal," said Matthew Brown, owner of Estelle's Eatery. "It was supposed to be Harmony's 125th anniversary as well."

Yet the festivities did go on, just on a smaller scale.

"The turnouts been pretty low today. It's not super crowded," Simpson said. "Everyone's been super careful. We actually pre-bottled all of our cocktails."

Most of the region's celebrations were cancelled, but there was a beer tent, free golf, car show, golf cart parade, live music and fireworks in Harmony for residents and visitors to enjoy this year.

"It's part of who we are and what Harmony is. It means a lot to people," said Simpson. "That's why Harmony picked the Fourth of July. We're all patriots in Harmony."

Business owners have made sure that precautions were taken.

"As long as it's a safe environment and people feel safe that we can provide that for them," said Brown. "It's been a really good vibe."

Normally seeing a larger crowd for the holiday, Estelle's owner has mixed feelings about the smaller turnout.

"You do want business because you want to be successful and have your business keep going but you don't want to overdo it," said Brown.

It may mean less business but Brown feels a sense of responsibility to the place he loves to call home.

"This is a great place to live absolutely," Brown said. "It has a real sense of community. People support each other. People care about each other."

The community found a way to have fun and celebrate the holiday but still keep people safe.

"Safe and happy and still enjoying Harmony Spirits," said Simpson.

Many other cities throughout southern Minnesota also held socially distanced fireworks displays at dusk.

Alex Tejada

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