Byron Good Neighbor Days, a summer tradition since 1981, had to shake things up in a post-COVID world. The four-day summer celebration is smaller, and anticipating a far more local attendance than in years past -- but it is still on.

Good Neighbor Days’ history of cancellations over the past several summers made its planning committee utterly determined to hold the celebration, even during a pandemic. The festival will take place Thursday-Sunday, July 16-19.

“We’ve had so many troubles going back the past three, four years, always having to cancel stuff because of rain or bad weather,” said Nicki Smith with Byron Good Neighbor Days. “It was just disheartening to us to have to cancel again because of this. So we decided to brainstorm and come up with some stuff that was COVID-friendly. … We still wanted to do some stuff.”

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Almost all of the events this year are brand-new because Good Neighbor Days’ usual staples (a walking parade, massive pork chop dinner, Firemen’s Dance, and more) simply couldn’t happen given the threat of coronavirus transmission in close quarters, Smith said.

Dunk tank at Byron Good Neighbor Days 2019. This year's four-day festival has an entirely new schedule of events. (contributed photo)
Dunk tank at Byron Good Neighbor Days 2019. This year's four-day festival has an entirely new schedule of events. (contributed photo)

A Logo Hunt (with an ice cream treat awarded to the winner) will take the place of the annual Medallion Hunt, which normally comes with a cash prize. The first clues pointing to the logo will be posted Thursday, July 16.

In fact, Byron-area residents will see several opportunities to follow clues and explore their city with a Puzzle Hunt hosted by Rochester business Escape Challenge and a Selfie Scavenger Hunt with items and locations around Byron’s neighborhoods also beginning Thursday.

For the latter, a Good Neighbor Days committee member who’s familiar with the Byron landscape has come up with a list of outdoor items for residents to search for -- and take selfies with -- to post on Facebook. “It’s supposed to be an outdoor thing you can do with your own family … (while) social distancing,” Smith said.

Other new contests encourage Byron residents to create at home. A Driveway Art Contest, using chalk as the only medium, and a Garden Contest will be judged Saturday afternoon. Individuals can work with a Good Neighbor Days or coronavirus/hearts theme, or something as simple as “a bazillion chalk rainbows,” Smith said. “It’ll be interesting, we don’t know what to expect because we’ve never done this before.”

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Finally, a Car Cruise including tricked-out motorcycles and golf carts takes the place of the usual walking parade. Drivers will wind their way through Byron. The goal is still to avoid drawing a crowd, Smith said -- so residents are better off watching from their homes and curbs.

Here are events of note taking place next Thursday through Sunday:

  • Good Neighbor Trivia at 8 p.m. Friday -- free-to-play, family-friendly trivia developed and hosted by Byron bars and restaurants. Participants can play at an area bar or restaurant, or take part virtually. If playing virtually, organizers suggest using two devices -- one to watch the live-stream, and one to answer questions.

  • Fireworks -- to be viewed from Byron homes after dark Friday evening.

  • 5K and Kids’ Mile -- beginning at 8 a.m. Saturday morning, hosted by Team R.E.D. The races will be run in “waves” spaced out at 30-minute increments -- sign up for a slot at teamredgo.com/byron-good-neighbor-days-5kkids1mile. Good Neighbor Days asks that runners bring their own snacks and drinks to minimize the chances of sharing germs.

  • Driveway Art and Garden Contests -- sign-up is required to join these events, which will be judged from 2-5 p.m. Saturday. The registration deadline to be considered for judging is Monday, July 13, at 6:00 p.m. Fill out the registration forms at www.byrongnd.com.

  • Burger and Tot Grill-Out -- hosted by Byron Boy Scouts Troop #42 at Wildwood Sports Bar & Grill (501 Frontage Rd. NE, Byron) from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m Saturday. Beef and turkey burgers, plus plenty of tots, are on the menu.

  • Drive-in movie -- screening of “A Dog’s Way Home” beginning at 8:30 p.m. Saturday in the Byron Recreation Complex parking lot (1650 4th St. NE, Byron).

  • Car Cruise -- begins at the Byron High School at 1 p.m. Sunday. Non-promotional vehicles only, but not limited to antique cars. “Tricked-out” or decorated golf carts and motorcycles also eligible to participate. The registration deadline to participate is Monday, July 13, at 6:00 p.m. Fill out the registration form at www.byrongnd.com.

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If You Go

What: Virtual Byron Good Neighbor Days

When: Thursday, July 16 through Sunday, July 19. Restaurant deals begin Monday, July 13 -- keep an eye on the BGND Facebook page for a list of participating businesses.

Where: Various Byron locations

More information: Visit www.byrongnd.com for a schedule of events and more information about each event.