AVON LAKE

The Avon Lake Historical Society is planning an “unparade” to help celebrate Independence Day in the era of COVID-19.

“While we will all miss the beauty and pageantry of the fireworks display, the health and safety of our neighbors must take priority,” reads the introduction to a flyer promoting the “Come Together USA Drive by 65.”

Avon Lake has canceled its normal Fourth of July celebration, as have many Westshore communities. The number 65 refers to Stop 65 on the Lake Shore Electric Railway, which once ran through Avon Lake and other shoreline cities.

In roughly the mid-1900s, many local businesses did not use their street address, but instead advertised their location as being near a stop on the railway, according to historical society President Tony Tomanek. Some Avon Lake old-timers still use the railway stop numbers to point out locations in the city, he said.

Stop 65 sat on Lake Road across from what is now the NRG Energy Inc. power plant, 33570 Lake Road. A bright yellow railway car sits on the location of the railway stop, Tomanek said. The historical society is rehabilitating a building on the site and turning it into a railway museum, which also will house Avon Lake memorabilia collected by the historical society. The pandemic has slowed that project.

The unparade runs 10 a.m. to noon July 4 beginning at Stop 65. Anyone who wants to participate is invited to decorate cars in a patriotic style and drive to stop 65, entering the parking lot near the Anchor Recreation Facility from Electric Boulevard. Drivers will move slowly through the lot, stopping at tents and stations staffed by various nonprofit and business organizations that will distribute flags, candy and other patriotically themed tokens. Music will accompany the unparade. Distributors at the stops will wear gloves and masks.

The historical society urges participants to bring a nonperishable food item to donate to Community Resource Services.

Registration is required at AvonLakerec.com. There is no fee to take part in the unparade.

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