The annual 4th of July celebration at Southgate Mall has been changed to reflect the current COVID 19 pandemic.

Traditionally, the mall parking lot would be crowded with thousands of people listening to music, enjoying food and then staying for the fireworks show, but with the coronavirus those plans have been changed.

Southgate Mall Manager Tim Winger explained the change in plans.

“We just felt like this year that it would be best that we just shoot off the fireworks and make sure that people know that we will come back with a bigger event next year on the property,” said Winger. “For this year, we want them to stay home, get in their front or back yards and watch the fireworks from there.”

Winger said that the mall would not be able to host the traditional event due to COVID 19 social distancing guidelines.

“Having the concert and multiple food trucks, and not being able to control the social distancing simply was not possible,” he said. “The big public event with 10,000 people wasn't the safe thing to do. We were looking at even a six thousand person event, but it just became too difficult to open it up and have to turn people away. We just felt like it was best to just shut down the parking lot and make sure that we could control it that night.”

Southgate Mall will begin western Montana’s largest fireworks display at 10:30 p.m. with music from Mountain 102.5 FM. In addition, a live broadcast of the event will be available through NBC Montana’s Facebook page, courtesy of KGVO News partner, KECI-TV.