April 14, 2021 By Carol Britton Meyer
The Fourth of July Parade Committee has the challenging job of planning for this traditional holiday event while in the midst of COVID-19 uncertainty. A decision as to whether or not there will be a parade this year is expected next month. The 2020 parade was cancelled due to the pandemic.
The Hingham Lions Club has not yet announced whether there will be a fireworks display this year.
Because in-person road races are not currently allowed under the state's reopening guidance, plans to offer an alternative are underway. "As of right now we are still planning for a fun-filled virtual race," Hingham Recreation Department Director Mark Thorell shared with the Hingham Anchor.
The parade committee met in-person on Monday at South Shore Country Club, wearing masks and maintaining social distancing.
"A big thank-you to Raffael's and their staff for setting up one of the large spaces to accommodate our meeting," Parade Committee Chair Jim Murphy told the Hingham Anchor.
The Committee continues to talk with other towns that normally host Fourth of July parades to gather information and to learn what -- if any -- contingency plans they have in place. "We are still aiming for a decision in mid-May as we work with the Hingham Board of Selectmen and health and safety officials," Murphy said.
Many of the larger and most expensive bands remain in a state of limbo due to COVID-19. That means that if the parade does happen this year, it will have a different look from past years, according to Murphy.
The parade button design contest winner, chosen from hundreds of entries submitted by fifth-graders, will be announced at a later date.
The sale of parade buttons before and during the event is a major fundraiser for the committee, along with the 50 Flags Campaign. There will be a big push to sell buttons this year.
"We will have the traditional parade button, but we may only create half as many this year. Last year, we had 5,500 made up just as the pandemic struck," Murphy recalled. "The Fruit Center staff [partnering with the Committee] handed out 4,000 buttons, which raised about $200."
Also, 1,500 buttons were available in other Hingham stores -- which were closed for the most part during the pandemic. About $100 to $200 was generated that way. "The desired fundraising from the sale of buttons in 2020 came up 95 percent shy of the goal -- about $400 year vs. the usual $8,000-plus (minus about $2,000 to make the buttons)," Murphy said.
The 50 Flags Campaign -- the largest fundraiser conducted by the parade committee -- went well last year, despite the fact that the event was not held. "We have 20,000 flags this year -- 4,000 more than last year," Murphy said. "In 2020 we raised $25,000 within a two-week window."
Numerous volunteers, including Hingham High sports teams and clubs and their parents, helped install and take down the flags and were rewarded with a 20 percent donation to their team or group -- $5,000 last year -- and will be doing the same again in 2021. The campaign is set to start around mid-May.
Stay tuned for parade, fireworks, and road race updates.