ORLEANS — It will be a “lite” version, but the Fourth of July parade will step off at 10 a.m. on Independence Day, with fireworks to follow on July 10 (rain date July 13).
The select board voted unanimously June 2 to allow the traditional festivities after hearing from Jennifer Allard, chair of the Fourth of July celebration committee.
“We really feel it’s your decision to make the decision whether it’s safe enough for Orleans to hold an event of this size,” Allard told the board. “If the board votes to move forward, we’re ready to put on a parade. It might not look the same, but our group is willing to put in the effort. The decision has to happen tonight, and we have to stick by it. I think people are looking for a parade, but we think it’s not our decision to decide if it’s safe.”
“I back up everything Jenn said,” committee member Ken Heritage added. “I spoke to the chief of police today. He has no problem with us going forward. His only issue is the same as ours: it has be to yea or nay tonight. My personal feeling is that people want a parade, their kids want a parade, and their grandkids want a parade. It’s an opportunity to get Orleans and America back and getting going again.”
When Chatham and Provincetown canceled their annual events, the Orleans board, wary of holding the only celebration in the area and drawing huge crowds, voted last month against holding the parade and fireworks. Then Chatham rescheduled, and the Orleans board took the opportunity to reconsider.
“A lot has changed,” said select board member Kevin Galligan, noting Gov. Charlie Baker’s subsequent reopening announcement and plan to end the state of emergency. Chatham will host a fireworks show on July 1 and a parade on July 3.
“If we said yes to a parade,” he asked Allard, “could you pull it off? We don’t want to dump this on you.”
“I’m gonna stand by what I said,” she replied. “Do I think it will be a flop? No. If I thought it would be a flop, I’d be telling you not to do it. I think we can do something we would be proud of, but not quite as grand as in years past.”
Select board member Mark Mathison asked whether a shorter route should be considered given the ongoing sewer construction project, but Allard said it was better to stick with the traditional route that has been well mapped out over the years by the police department. Galligan offered to contact the sewer contractor to see if anything could be done to make the roads and sidewalks safer before the event.
The board voted to allow the parade to go forward “at the discretion of the committee.” Members were also unanimous in supporting the return of the fireworks show. Two days later, on June 4, the committee met to continue its preparations.
“We will be having a July Fourth parade in one month exactly,” Allard told her colleagues, “and we will be having fireworks. Peter has worked some magic.”
That was a reference to Peter O’Meara, who chairs the private Friends of the Fourth group that raises funds for the fireworks. He joined the meeting to say the Atlas fireworks company had already reassigned the original date for Orleans but had suggested Saturday, July 10, which happens to be the same evening as a Firebirds game. The rain date will be July 13, when another Firebirds game is scheduled.
Allard reviewed the suggestions she’s received for the parade theme: “Here Comes the Sun, Celebrate Good Times, America’s Back, 2021 and America’s Back,” or going themeless. “I’m for having ‘America’s Back,’ Heritage said. “It says, ‘We’ve been gone for a while, but we’re back.’” That idea won unanimous support.
At the committee’s next meeting, a vote will be taken for grand marshal.
Volunteers are needed in all categories. Visit www.Orleans4thofJuly.com to learn more.