The annual event is as user-friendly as a parade can be, best I can tell. They let anyone who wants to be in the parade be in the parade. It’s also about as “hometown” and informal as you can get. How better to celebrate our nation’s independence? Entrants typically include lots of police, fire and other rescue vehicles, tractors, flatbed trailers, antique automobiles, and horses.
And, oh, politicians. Considering this is an election year — and this is one of the only Independence Day parades on July 4 this year — it’s likely more than a few officeholders or office seekers will be walking or riding in the parade.
Some groups toss candy to parade watchers.
There’s no preregistration required to be in the parade.
“You are right about how we run the parade,” Joe Long, Blountville Ruritan secretary, said. “Just show up, get in line, and be ready to go by 2 p.m.”
Lineup for the parade begins at 1 p.m. on Oak Street, Cherry Street, and Keystone Drive. Participants are asked to stay to one side of the roadway to allow traffic flow to continue. Signage will be in place to help direct the lineup.
Long said in the past, the parade — a decades-old tradition — has sometimes been overlooked by the region’s residents.
“We still have people tell us that they didn’t know about the parade,” Long said.
This year the Ruritan has attempted to step up promotion of the parade, especially through the organization’s Facebook page and requests to local media for advance coverage.
If you can’t make it to the parade, or don’t feel comfortable being in a crowd due to concerns about COVID-19, the parade will be live-streamed by First Baptist Church Blountville via its YouTube channel. The link is https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5H0FFRl7VvAMiwuxvRMjOQ.
Long said the Ruritan says a big thank you to the church for providing this option.
Attendance at past parades has typically been steady, but not elbow-to-elbow along the route. But in recognition of the times in which we’re living, the Blountville Ruritan posted the following on its Facebook page.
For all attending the parade:
• While the parade is an outside event, there may be many people. If you feel unsafe around crowds, please do not attend. Do not sacrifice your personal safety.
• Please practice appropriate physical distancing at all times. Wearing a mask is encouraged.
For parade participants:
• You should not interact directly with the crowd during the parade. Do not encourage spectators to enter the street.
• Do not allow large gaps to form between groups in the parade.
For parade spectators:
• There are several places along the parade route where it is possible to stand a good distance back from the street and still be able to view the parade well. There are many places where you can park and watch the parade pass without exiting your car.
• People will likely toss or hand out candy and other items during the parade. It is your responsibility to decide whether you want to take those items and how you choose to handle them.
• Do not enter the street while the parade is in progress.
“An outdoor event that is spread out over a large area should be very safe from the spread of disease,” Long said. “Let us all work to make that so.”