May 12, 2021 by Carol Britton Meyer
As the saying goes, "Everyone loves a parade."
That said, the Fourth of July Parade Committee is working with the town's Incident Management Team Command Group in making a decision about whether this year's event will be cancelled, postponed, or go on as usual, with COVID-19 protocols in place.
"Our first priority is safety," Chair Jim Murphy told the Hingham Anchor.
Members of the Command Group include Town Administrator Tom Mayo, Asst. Town Administrator Michelle Monsegur, the police chief and deputy chief, the fire chief -- who also serves as emergency management director -- the deputy fire chief of administration, and Executive Health Officer Susan Sarni.
Gov. Charlie Baker recently lifted the 50 percent of previous capacity restriction for all parades and festivals as of May 29, contingent on the submission of safety plans to the local board of health -- which means 100 percent capacity is possible, under certain conditions.
According to the new guidelines, such plans must include measures for maintaining social distancing, staffing and operations details, and hygiene and cleaning protocols.
Once that's accomplished, the committee will work with the IMT "to come up with a workable plan, if possible," Murphy said. "Right now, everything's up in the air." Murphy participated in an IMT Zoom meeting recently to talk about the parade.
"The Command Group’s role is to ensure the health and safety of the town and its inhabitants. We have functioned together as a team since the early days of the pandemic," Mayo told the Hingham Anchor. "We are working with the Fourth of July Parade Committee to determine if the parade can be held safely on July 4."
The biggest issue facing the committee, Murphy said, is predicting how spectators would respond to all the requirements -- and if the event is a "go," ensuring that they will maintain social distancing and abide by the protocols all along the parade route. "We would need that buy-in," he said.
If the decision is made to move ahead with plans for the parade, one idea to help ensure the safety of spectators is to call upon members of the community to act as volunteer parade monitors to help ensure that all the required protocols are observed, Murphy said. "We would also have a widespread social media campaign to let everyone know the guidelines and would ask local businesses to help get the word around as well."
The parade committee will continue working with the IMT to arrive at a decision. "There are no guarantees," he continued.
Murphy noted that Quincy is planning a Flag Day parade, and Braintree, a parade the weekend before the July 4th holiday, along with fireworks and a family day.