Breckenridge considers hosting Fourth of July parade after last year’s cancellation

Scenes from the 2018 Independence Day Parade on Main Street in Breckenridge. The town is considering bringing the parade back this summer, but may add COVID-19 prevention measures like physical distancing.
Photo by Hugh Carey / Summit Daily News archives

Breckenridge is tentatively moving forward with planning for a Fourth of July parade.

The annual Independence Day parade was canceled in 2020 along with several other traditional town events, but as the vaccination rate increases throughout the county, Breckenridge town officials hope events can start to return, even if there are changes to the events’ operations.

Bringing back the Independence Day parade is the first major event the town has discussed as a possibility for this summer. While the town planned to host its annual Ullr Fest and snow sculpture competition this past winter, the events were canceled in November when the county moved back on the state’s COVID-19 dial due to a spike in cases. Since then, most town events, including the Breck Pride and Mardi Gras festivals, were put on hold.

Assistant Town Manager Shannon Haynes explained to the Breckenridge Town Council at their work session Tuesday, April 13, that the Breckenridge Events Committee has discussed the parade and determined that a decision would need to be made by mid-May. She noted that the group next meets at the beginning of May. Mayor Eric Mamula suggested that the town go ahead with the Fourth of July parade as long as there is room for flexibility.

“Knowing that the way they write contracts, they can always cancel something if we have something spike … or if we feel that things have not gotten better or one of these variants explodes in the community and we just don’t feel that it’s right to do,” Mamula said. “That gives us longer than just May. If … things are better, personally, I’d like to have the beginning of summer back.”

Council member Dennis Kuhn agreed, stating that he likes the idea of “waiting as long as possible” to make a final decision.

“I caution us for giving people hope that it’s definitely going to happen, but let’s move in that direction and if we could pull it off, that would be great,” Kuhn said.

Council member Dick Carleton also agreed, saying that the higher the percentage of Summit County citizens who are vaccinated, the easier it is to move forward with activities like the Fourth of July parade. Council member Jeffrey Bergeron opted to go along with planning the parade with the caveat that the town is prepared to pull the plug if necessary. Mamula suggested that some changes be made to the parade to adhere to COVID-19 prevention measures.

“I would definitely suggest that we don’t invite the marching band from Michigan to come this year. I think some things like that might be too much. If we have more of a scaled-down parade, a little more local oriented where we could be flexible, but go ahead and start working on those things like barricades,” Mamula said, referring to barricades used for traffic and pedestrian control during the parade.

Mamula said that as opposed to the normal parade format where people stand close together, the parade could be set up to physically distance people. He noted that the town’s mandatory mask zone will likely be removed by July 4, but if the event happens, attendees would likely be required to wear masks. Mamula added that the county’s vaccination rate should be “pretty high” by July. Bergeron countered that while the county could have a high vaccination rate, the percentage of vaccinated visitors could be low.

Council member Erin Gigliello said she liked the idea of finding creative ways to spread people out for the event, such as taking the parade down Airport Road.

“We could start in Farmer’s Korner and take it all the way to Hoosier Pass,” Kuhn said in jest.

Haynes said the council’s sentiments would be communicated to the Breckenridge Events Committee at the group’s first meeting in May, and feedback from the committee meeting would be brought back to the council.

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