Sam and Michelle Flanders of Ringgold County tour Christ Church cemetery Thursday

A visitor would be hard-pressed to find a better place to practice COVID-19 induced social distancing during the Fourth of July weekend than the historic cemetery at Christ Church on St. Simons Island.

“For what it’s worth, we’re here practicing social distancing,” Ringgold County resident Dan Flanders said Friday afternoon, strolling the grounds of the cemetery.

“We don’t go places where people are packed in, even restaurants,” Michelle Flanders added.

But restaurants, shops and crowded environs did not keep folks away from the island Pier Village District. The license plates behind the vehicles taking up every parking space on Mallory Street in the district told the story – Colorado, Ohio, Tennessee, Kentucky, New York, Virginia, Wayne County, and plenty of Glynn County and Atlanta-area Cobb County license plates.

With the number of COVID-19 cases in Glynn County on the increase by 78 percent since Monday, the county’s vital Independence Day tourists showed no signs of decline. Still, folks like the Flanders were happy to choose the paths less traveled for their holiday entertainment.

The couple did, however, indulge in a dine-in meal Wednesday at a restaurant in Fernandina Beach. But they were quite satisfied with the social distancing practices in place at the establishment.

“We’re still being careful,” Michelle Flanders said.

Not far from Christ Church, the roomy Frederica National Monument proved to be a popular destination as well.

“We’ve had 123 people come here so far today,” said monument volunteer Al DiSalvio, dutifully wearing a mask at an outside table.

It was not quite 2 p.m. on a hot and muggy July day.

“It was about the same yesterday,” he added.

Cleveland County resident Sarah Ford, husband John and their three daughters ages 15, 12 and 7 rented an Ocean Walk condo on Mallery Street for the holiday weekend. They have already done Jekyll Island, the beach at Massengale Park on St. Simons Island and other local popular places.

As a middle school history teacher, John Ford persuaded the family to brave the afternoon heat for a visit to the centuries-old Fort Frederica. Although they understand the risks of COVID-19 infection for the elderly and the medically compromised, Sarah Ford feels the risks for her family are nominal.

She added that they are practicing COVID-19 precautions around her parents and others who might be more susceptible.

“Oh yeah, I’m not too concerned,” Sarah Ford said. “But I am scared for people like my parents.”

Jody and Michele Mynard drove here from Enterprise, Ala., to spend July 4th with family on the island. They checked into the Ocean Inn across from the oceanfront Neptune Park. Like the Fords, they are practicing the guidelines in place for Georgia, but they are not concerned about the risks of COVID-19 contamination.

Jody Mynard is a U.S. Postal Service employee and Michele Mynard is a teacher who is eager to get back into the classroom when the new school year begins.

Their island outings have ranged from dining at Iguanas Seafood Restaurant in the Village to kayaking.

“I wouldn’t want to travel by plane right now,” Jody Mynard said. “But we’re not overly concerned. If you’re going to get it, you’re going to get it. We’re just trying to do what they say to do and be careful.”

Careful was the key word for the Hancocks, a husband and wife from Dallas, Texas, who took their three young daughters for a tour of the Christ Church grounds.

They did not stop on their long trip from Texas, packing food and other provisions for the ride.

They are staying with family on the island.

They had no intention of canceling their summer vacation because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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