No July Fourth parade in Homer this year

The Homer Chamber of Commerce & Visitor Center has canceled the annual July Fourth parade in Homer, citing concerns over the lingering threat of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The annual event normally takes place on Pioneer Avenue every July 4, with a different grand marshal each year and prizes given out to the best floats. Chamber Executive Director Brad Anderson said the chamber decided to cancel this year’s parade because there was concern the organization wouldn’t be able to pull off a safe version of the parade with participants spaced out for the appropriate social distancing.

The state Department of Health and Social Services advises people maintain at least 6 feet of distance between them and people who are not in their households, and to wear face coverings when that distancing isn’t possible.

“It just really became a concern we were hearing from many of our regular participants,” Anderson said.

Anderson said the chamber had considered putting on a virtual parade that involved only the floats and participants, with no crowds of onlookers. But even building the floats themselves brings people within close proximity of each other, he said.

The chamber had also considered using the event to honor local health care workers by making them the grand marshals.

“We were doing really well in our (COVID-19) numbers (early on) and how the state was responding, so we were going to shift that to kind of recognize everybody,” Anderson said.

However, it wouldn’t have sent a good message to try to honor health care workers with a parade that put groups of people together on floats, Anderson said. In the end, there were just too many safety concerns.

The parade is slated to return on July 4, 2021. In the meantime, Anderson said the chamber is focusing on guiding local businesses through the economic fallout of the state’s previous COVID-19 restrictions and mandates.

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