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No Fans At This Year's Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest, But July 4th Tradition Will Go On

CONEY ISLAND, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) - Year after year, locals flock to Coney Island for the Fourth of July. But, things will look different this year.

One of the greatest sporting traditions in New York City won't draw 25,000 people, but the Nathan's Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest will take place, CBS2's Steve Overmyer reported.

"We're not quitting. Joey Chestnut is doesn't quit. You can't cancel Thanksgiving, you can't cancel Christmas, you can't cancel Fourth of July. And that's the way we're taking it," said George Shea, the event's verbose emcee and co-founder of Major League Eating.

This year, the competition will be held with the same world class athletes, but in a secret, undisclosed location and a high level of safety protocols.

"All the eaters will be spaced out six feet and on either side will be [plastic sheets] to prevent any sort of extra spray," said Shea.

A global pandemic can't stop the Super Bowl of Major League Eating, or the reigning champ.

Joey Chestnut arrived in New York in time to quarantine for the full 14 days. He'll compete without a crowd to pump him up.

"I'm gonna introduce Joey -- Joey Chestnut! Dead silence," said Shea.

"It's gonna be like a stand-up comedy skit where nobody is laughing," Overmyer said.

"It's gonna, yes. It's like being alone or no one's laughing, which is even worse, that's right," Shea said.

Over the years, the contest has become a symbol of American culture on the most American of holidays.

"It's going to make it different not being able to physically be here, but I think it's still important to have that celebration," said Angelina Ortiz, a Coney Island resident. "Being able to celebrate the Fourth of July and keep the tradition."

It's more than just another event in the community. It's a source of pride.

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