The Independence Day parade scheduled for Saturday in downtown Great Falls has been canceled due to COVID-19 concerns.
Lola Sheldon-Galloway, the parade organizer, said last week that they had planned to incorporate "people pods" and "neutral zones" along the extended 30-block parade route. Each pod area would have been marked off and numbered with highway candles and caution tape to mark designated "do not use" areas.
Sheldon-Galloway said in an email on Tuesday morning that "it is with great reluctance that this year’s 4th of July parade in downtown Great Falls will be cancelled upon request by the Cascade County Health Dept, the Cascade County Commissioners, Center for Disease Control and the Board of Public Health."
She continued, "We as a team have worked hard and outside the box to develop several plans, routes and concerns trying to accommodate everything possible that we could do to keep our community and visitors safe while having a parade. With the rise in number of cases of COVID-19 in our state and county we have been asked to cancel this event this year. Many volunteers had stepped forward and were willing to work many hours to accommodate these requests from the different city, county and state departments to make this parade as safe as possible. I’d like to thank them and the heads of all the departments for their willingness to serve our community on this 150th anniversary of the official declaration of it being a national holiday and our city’s 30th year of a downtown parade."
FIREWORKS SHOW: The annual fireworks show is still scheduled to take place in Great Falls thanks to the People’s Park & Recreation Foundation’s Fireworks Forever Fund, and a donation from Steel Etc. and Jimmy and Debbie Filipowicz. In an effort to limit crowd size, two fireworks shows will be held simultaneously - one at West Bank Park, and one at Centene Stadium. Both displays will begin at 10:30 p.m. At 6:00 am, both West Bank Park and Elks’ Riverside Park will be closed all day to the public to avoid large group gatherings and potential COVID-19 exposure. River Drive between 1st Ave. North and 6th Street will also be closed all day, starting at 6:00 am.
BLACK EAGLE: The Black Eagle Community Center still plans to conduct an Independence Day parade and a day-long celebration. The parade will begin at noon at the Black Eagle Community Center and end at the Black Eagle Country Club. BECC manager Greg Schoby said, "I've always been very avid about the Fourth of July. It's like one of my favorite holidays."
The BECC posted on Facebook: "After many phone calls and meetings and ideas we have come up with a way to still host the parade and keep you all safe!! Thanks to the CCHD for working with us! "Reverse parade" we are still working full details out but a quick summary for you all!! The parade will still be down smelter as usual. It will be "stationary". All floats,cars, bikes and trucks as part of parade will be staged along smelter ave. And people will be able to drive through and see the parade that way. Without having to leave their cars or be in such a large group. I understand that this is not the most ideal way to have a parade but its what we had to do to make it happen!!"
FIREWORKS SAFETY: People discharging fireworks within Great Falls city limits must comply with the fireworks ordinance which will be enforced by police officers and firefighters.
Primary rules and regulations include:
- The selling and discharging of fireworks within the incorporated limits of Great Falls can only take place on July 2, 3 and 4 from 8:00 a.m. to midnight (per City Code - §9.9).
- Children under the age of 10 partaking in the firework festivities must have a supervising adult within 10 feet, in order to control the application of flame or other means to discharge the firework.
- Residents should only discharge fireworks on private property (sidewalk leading to your residence and or driveway) and should always clean up any trash that is left behind from the discharging of fireworks.
Offenses can be fined as follows: 1st offense - $100, 2nd offense - $200, 3rd offense - $300.Great Falls Fire Rescue provided these safety tips to keep in mind if you plan to discharge fireworks:
- Read Directions – Read the cautionary labels and directions before discharging.
- Discharge Outdoors – Always use fireworks outside in a clear area; away from buildings and vehicles.
- Keep Fireworks away from Others - Never point or throw fireworks at another person or place any part of your body directly over a firework when lighting the fuse.
- One at a Time - Light fireworks one at a time, then move back to a safe distance quickly.
- Have Water Handy! – Have a bucket of water or a water hose nearby to prevent a possible fire. Always remember to douse discharged fireworks with water once they have completely burned before throwing the fireworks away to prevent a trash fire.
- Adult Supervision - A responsible adult should always closely supervise all fireworks activities. Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
- Clean it Up - Always clean up used fireworks when finished (make sure they are doused with water!).
- Prevent Injury – Fireworks should never be carried in a pocket or be shot off in metal or glass containers.Fireworks should be used on a solid, flat level surface. Never use altered fireworks. Not only are they dangerous, they can also be illegal.
- Sparklers - Sparklers can burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees. Parents may not realize that young children suffer injuries from sparklers.
- It Didn’t Light - If a firework does not work, leave it alone. Do not try to relight it. Pour water on it.
- Buying Fireworks – Purchase fireworks only from reliable outlets. Avoid buying fireworks that are packaged in brown paper or packaging. This is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and could pose a danger to consumers.
The City says that people should consider that not everyone loves fireworks. They ask that you be a good neighbor and be sensitive to others when choosing to discharge them. Fireworks can disrupt those sleeping, scare pets, and can be an issue for veterans. Great Falls Fire Rescue wants the community to enjoy the 4th of July and to remember that fireworks, even when used properly, have the potential to cause fires and accidents. Follow the law, have fun, and be safe!