BRISTOL, R.I. (WPRI) — The country’s oldest continuous Fourth of July celebration will still go on in Bristol this year, as long as organizers can guarantee a smaller crowd than in past years.
In April, the Bristol Fourth of July Committee announced plans to downsize the parade and reschedule events throughout the summer until Gov. Gina Raimondo gave the crushing news that large events wouldn’t be allowed.
According to Chuck MacDonough, the 2020-2021 Parade Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Bristol Fourth Committee, the final decision has been made that the parade will be held, just with no marchers.
All parade participants will be in some kind of vehicle either alone or with a small group of people and socially distanced.
“It’s cars only,” MacDonogh said. “Not a lot of entertainment, but it’s worthy of our tradition, and we’d like people to be aware that if you come, we might have to cancel.”
The committee is encouraging only Bristol residents to attend to keep the crowd small and make it easier for everyone to keep their distance. MacDonough says the committee will be working out the logistics in the coming weeks.
“We’re trying to maintain some semblance of small. We don’t want a lot of people,” MacDonough added. “We prefer Bristol people, and keep your distance, wear your masks, and do the socially appropriate things to do. We don’t want to cause an issue with our health or anyone’s health, right?”
The committee’s goal is to keep the procession of vehicles to less than 30 minutes so people are not outside for too long.
MacDonough says that while it’s hard to ask non-Bristol residents not to attend, it’s about keeping people healthy while allowing the town’s tradition to go on.
“We’re asking them to stay away because we’re trying to keep it small-town. We don’t want to cause any health concerns to them or to certainly our community,” he said. “So stay at home this year. Come join us next year, but let us celebrate this independence and have something traditional that we all enjoy.”
The committee aims to start the parade at 8:30 a.m., two hours earlier than usual in hopes of minimizing crowds.
Parade entertainment will be on flatbeds. The parade will be led by the 88th Army Band, starting with the National Anthem. The Bristol County Fife and Drum Corps will also perform.
“Executive orders could change and we could end up canceling,” MacDonough noted. “We’re going to be conscious of the governor’s orders and we believe, based on the current executive orders, that we should be able to have this parade unless things change, and we hope that we will.”