The Biggest Small Town Fourth of July Parade will march on as originally planned.
The Seguin City Council decided to move forward with the Biggest Small Town Fourth of July Parade with a 7-1 vote, with councilman Jeremy Roy voting against, during a special meeting Thursday evening.
Although the festivities have the green light, city council members are leaving it up to the people to practice safety measures like social distancing and the wearing of face protection when attending the annual gathering, which typically sees about 10,000 attendees.
“I think throughout the county, and all over the country, we’ve learned the rules on the way people need to social distance,” Seguin Mayor Don Keil said. “A lot has been learned, and I think people are beginning to respect that. This is going to be a celebration of freedom, so we’re going to have to allow people the freedom to make the sole choice of how they are going to spend the day.”
Seguin City Council member Jeremy Roy voted against the proposition of a parade out of consideration for local health workers.
“It has everything to do with the fact that I work in healthcare,” Roy said. “I’m afraid if we’re not right and there is a great impact, and there are more cases, it will directly affect our healthcare community and our hospital, our doctor's offices. So that’s why — not just the protection of our health but the impact that could have on nurses, on doctors, on the hospital. I love a parade. I’ve never missed a parade [and] I want the community to know I love the parade passionately, but it's really my concern for the impact it will have if we have to do more testing and all those things.”
The city floated the idea of halting the annual parade amid concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.
The go-ahead follows a city council meeting held in May, where council members decided to seek community input on the possibility of a parade.
Seguin Main Street and CVB Director Kyle Kramm oversaw the survey and presented the results to the council.
According to the survey, which received about 600 responses, Seguin residents want the parade to happen, with 73% of the responses saying yes and 27% opposing, Kramm said.
The survey also gauged community interest in an online live stream of the festivities, which will be available to view on the day of the parade, with 25% of survey participants voting that they would watch the live stream over attending and 63% voting that they would rather go in person, Kramm said.
Additionally, Kramm polled 53 participants from previous years’ parades. Of those, 36 were on board to participate, 12 said they would with safety precautions in place and five are bowing out altogether this year.
Kramm proposed several caveats to keep event goers and entries safe like the addition of hand sanitizer stations peppered throughout the parade route, restricting the distribution of items like flags and koozies and reducing the amount of or doing away with VIP seating.
“We normally allow entries to walk along their route and pass out flags and koozies and things like that. We will not allow that this year. We don’t want contaminated items being handed out,” Kramm said. “We normally have some non-profit vendors selling waters and sodas along the parade route. We would probably not have that this year as well.”
Other precautions could include staging five cars per street, 10 people or less per float, and trophies handed out by one judge instead of all three.
“As far as spacing of announcers on the parade stage — we will probably only allow the announcers and one staff person up on the parade stage to allow appropriate spacing,” Kramm said.
Keil said he eagerly anticipates honoring local high school students on the day of the parade.
“What I'm more excited about is the fact that we'll be able to honor the seniors who graduated from Seguin High School and Navarro High School as parade marshals," he said. "I’ve asked them to do that, and they can hopefully march in front of the parade spaced at a reasonable distance and get some recognition for their 12 years of hard work that they put in to graduate from high school. They’ve missed out on so much in their senior year that I think it’s important that we show them some gratitude and give them a pat on the back.”