We enter what will certainly be the strangest 4th of July holiday in recent history, maybe in our lives.

The stage had been set for an epic holiday as the 4th falls on a Saturday which means most people are off on Friday.  That sets up a three-day weekend which is as good as it gets. That is in most years.

There will be times this weekend you might not notice anything different from a typical July 4th celebration with sunny and hot weather as a backdrop.  There will be traffic on the Garden State Parkway and many local roadways especially those leading to beach communities.

Speaking of the beaches, they will likely be crowded and by 10 a.m. if not earlier signs will tell you Island Beach State Park is filled-up.  However that’s the first indication that things are different because the popular park and beach only allow 50% of the parking spots to be filled before shutting it down.

Of course it won’t take long to notice all the other differences.  At least some people will be wearing masks and trying to maintain social distancing, even when walking on boardwalks.  Restaurants have made significant accommodations for outdoor dining and just as noticeable is the fact you can’t eat inside.

Bars…that’s another story.

As for fireworks, well some will view them Friday as part of an event at FirstEnergy Park (home of the Lakewood BlueClaws) and there will also be ones at Shelter Cove in Toms River on Saturday.

Beachwood’s annual extravaganza on the river has been rescheduled for Labor Day weekend and there will not be any in Seaside Heights or Point Pleasant Beach.  Of course lately there have been regular and unwanted fireworks going off in many towns and neighborhoods.

Yes this is the pandemic version of our nation’s birthday, a nation that is divided along many lines.  We have problems and not just those associated with COVID-19.  Despite this I will fly my flag with pride hoping we can find a way to resolve our differences and become a nation united.

Happy 4th everyone and Happy Birthday America!