Thousands of the most tangible symbols of government power are going up in smoke this week as Texas celebrates the end of the state’s mask mandate.
Texas Legends Steakhouse in Madisonville planned to spend the day collecting masks and burn them at the end of the day.
“The hope is to get a full barrel and then at some point, we will take it to a remote location to where we can burn them,” General Manager Christopher Garza said, according to KBTX-TV.
“We just wanted to celebrate individuals coming out and being able to celebrate things that they’ve missed just over the past, how long has it been, a year,” Garza said. “To enjoy some fellowship. We are all about the fellowship here. We want to set an environment where everybody can come and feel comfortable.”
Garza said the party has nothing to do with politics.
“We aren’t proposing that we stand one way nor the other on masks themselves,” he said. “This is just a celebration of moving forward to the next chapter for us.”
Guests drop their masks into a fire at a “Texas is Open Party” after Governor Greg Abbott issued a rollback of COVID-19 restrictions in Allen, near Dallas. Photo by Shelby Tauber pic.twitter.com/RX1myRDWmf
— corinne_perkins (@corinne_perkins) March 11, 2021
“It’s really just about embracing freedom and liberty, and being able to make your own personal choices in life,” said Benji Gershon, president of the group.
“I felt it was an opportunity for my fellow conservative Texans and freedom-loving Americans to come together and celebrate,” he said, according to The Dallas Morning News.
The bonfire “is symbolic of freedom and it’s symbolic of the fact that the mask represents government control.”
Gershon said that the masks themselves were not the problem.
“I’m not personally anti-mask,” he said. “It should be a personal choice, not a government-mandated thing.”
The outlet reported more than 200 people were expected to gather in celebration.
— Oliver Sallet (@OliverSallet) March 11, 2021
Not all events were massive. In Corpus Christi, about 15 residents dropped their masks in a barrel that was then lit on fire, according to KIII-TV.
Over in McAllen, resident Joacim Hernandez kept his celebration private as he threw a mask on his grill and burned it, according to KRON-TV.
“I support businesses’ right to require a mask and each person’s right to keep wearing one,” Hernandez said. “I also support individuals celebrating their freedom to not wear a mask where allowed by those establishments. Freedom of choice is what is to be celebrated.”
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