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Lakefront businesses hoping holiday will help pandemic rebound

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ST. JOSEPH, Mich. -- The cancellation of fireworks shows and other Independence Day events amid the pandemic may have you wondering what you can do to safely celebrate the holiday.

St. Joseph is a lakefront oasis in the summertime, but traffic is down this year due to COVID-19.

“Typically, Fourth of July weekend we’d have 20 to 30 people lined out the door when we open at noon and we’d be on a wait all weekend,” said Mike Gross, owner of Silver Harbor Brewing Company.

Since most businesses had to be closed the past few months, they’re hoping the holiday weekend will help them bounce back.

One — using the great outdoors to its benefit.

“Especially outdoors it feels like a safer place to be, rather than cooped up inside,” said Erin Gerard, co-owner of Third Coast Paddling. “It’s a great thing for families and you can have some space out there on the river.”

Third Coast Paddling rents kayaks and paddle boards on the Paw Paw River, Galien River and Silver Beach. They’re also making sure to sanitize equipment after each use.

And as we’re seeing soap continue to fly off the shelf, there’s a spot in St. Joseph where you can find plenty.

“I make it right here, so you know what you’re getting,” said Lisa Miller, owner of Forever Clean Soap Works. “One of my big sellers are my luffa soaps and I use locally grown luffa, they’re grown in Baroda and all the fragrances are very popular.”

Then once it’s time for a bite to eat, head to Silver Harbor Brewing Company where they’ve transformed the street into outdoor dining. They teamed up with 221 Main and the city to create “Pleasant Street Plaza.”

“We saw it happening around the nation, where cities were shutting down the streets to help restaurants gain seating, because inside we’ve lost 50 percent of our capacity,” said Gross. “So this is a way to gain some capacity back with outdoor seating.”

Pleasant Street Plaza will continue July 4. It goes from noon to dusk every Friday-Sunday through Labor Day weekend.

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