There will be an Independence Day parade in Great Falls - but there will be some changes this year due to COVID-19.
Lola Sheldon-Galloway, the parade organizer, says that this year's event is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. and it will feature "people pods" and "neutral zones" along the extended 30-block parade route. Each pod area will be marked off and numbered with highway candles and caution tape to mark designated "do not use" areas. Here is the parade route:
- 2nd Avenue South @ 2nd Street eastbound
- 1st Avenue South westbound
- Central Avenue eastbound
- 1st Avenue North westbound
- End of parade 1st Avenue North and Park Drive
No candy, balloons, or brochures will be allowed this year.
She explained how the pods will work: "We will create people pods along each block, asking that you only have 25 people in your pod and stay with people that you know. And we will rope those off, there are 60 sidewalks, which would accommodate 420 pods along the parade route. So if people would stay within our guidelines and follow what we've designed, the Health Department approved the parade because of this restriction."
She continued, "I have confidence in the Great Falls citizens that if they want the parade, they can follow our guidelines because this is how we're getting a parade this year is from these guidelines and restrictions that we have along the parade route. We've also expanded our staging area to be twice as big so that we can accommodate that spacing for the people that are participating in the parade."
Sheldon-Galloway says they are happy to be able to bring the community together: "The Fourth of July parade in Great Falls is the biggest parade we have in Great Falls. It's a day the unifies our community, a day that we just celebrate together, our day of celebration with the fireworks and parade, and just seems to be a great day in Great Falls."
She noted that the parade may be canceled if COVID-19 cases spike, and also said that they need volunteers. You can call her at 406-727-4963 if you would like to help. If you would like to be in the parade, applications are available at Great Falls Lumber (310 6th Street South).
An Independence Day parade will also be held in Black Eagle; we will post details about it soon.