Cedar City’s Fourth of July parade to feature new route, popular ‘Spirit of ’76’ floats

CEDAR CITY — This year’s Fourth of July parade in Cedar City will feature a new route, and while there was some question early on regarding the “Spirit of ‘76” floats, it was recently announced that the popular floats that wowed crowds in their debut one year ago will return to this year’s parade.

Float designer Randy Seely paints rockets for a Fourth of July parade float, Cedar City, Utah, June 29, 2020 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

Saturday morning’s parade, scheduled to start at 9:30 a.m., will follow a seven-block L-shaped route this year, going east on Center Street from 300 West toward Main Street, then turning left and heading north on Main until finishing at 400 N. Main. Additional details about the parade and how to watch it are at the bottom of this story.

The 10 floats in the “Spirit of ‘76” series depict iconic scenes in early American history, including such pivotal moments as Patrick Henry’s famous speech, George Washington crossing the Delaware River, Betsy Ross sewing the flag, the Boston Tea Party and the signing of the Declaration of Independence. 

Beth Stephenson, who helped spearhead and organize the creation of the “Spirit of ‘76” floats last year, said she’s grateful the parade is being staged again this year, especially after a recent period of uncertainty during which organizers had considered canceling the event entirely.

“We have been so blessed to have so many people in our community that want to participate and make it happen,” she told Cedar City News on Monday, as float designer Randy Seely was working nearby on a Liberty Bell and other improvements to be added to the “Let Freedom Ring” float.

Approximately 65 volunteers, ranging in ages from 6 to 76, will ride aboard the floats, reenacting the various historic scenes. The vignettes are “kind of like a mini history lesson,” Stephenson said, adding that approximately three-quarters of the actors who appeared in last year’s parade will be back again, with most of them reprising their same roles.

Volunteer actors portray drafters of the U.S. Constitution during Fourth of July parade, Cedar City, Utah, July 4, 2019 | File photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

Iron County Commissioner Paul Cozzens, whose family helped put together a float last year, said he became concerned several weeks ago when he first heard that organizers were considering canceling this year’s parade due to COVID-19 concerns and restrictions.

“We did the Betsy Ross float last year, and we’d decided to do it again,” Cozzens told Cedar City News. “When I heard that they were going to cancel the parade, I went and talked to the mayor and said even if our family has to build a float and drive it down the streets of Cedar City, we’re going to have a parade.”

Cozzens said Cedar City Mayor Maile Wilson-Edwards was receptive to the idea of making sure the parade could still happen.  

“She was great. She just said, ‘Let’s do it. Let’s have a parade,’” Cozzens said.

The addition of the historical floats has elevated Cedar’s parade to one of the top Independence Day parades in the state, Cozzens said, if not the best.

“The parade was so amazing last year,” he said. “And with everybody being locked up and cooped up, I think we need a parade. I think we need to do it. It’s time. It’s important that we celebrate our independence and our freedoms.”

Saturday’s parade, which is sponsored and organized by the local Lions Club, will feature approximately 50 entries, parade chairman Heather Carter told Cedar City News.

After the color guard, the first part of the parade will include the “Spirit of ‘76” floats, in addition to George and Martha Washington on horseback, a Revolutionary War-era fife and drum corps, plus a new youth flag brigade. The remainder of the parade will feature assorted entries from civic organizations and local businesses, along with veterans, rodeo queens, pageant royalty, school clubs, sports teams and dance groups. Lions Club members Dan and Vivian Boyle will serve as the parade’s grand marshals.

An actor portrays a Founding Father aboard one of the “Spirit of ’76” floats, Fourth of July parade, Cedar City, Utah, July 4, 2019 | File photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

“This is a no-candy parade, so hopefully this will prevent many of the crowding issues we have had in the past,” Carter said. “We also ask that parents instruct their children to stay out of the road and to be respectful of other people’s social distancing.”

Along these lines, Carter said they are asking people to use common sense and practice social distancing.

“Wear a mask if you feel it necessary,” she said, “and if you have been sick or exhibiting any symptoms, please stay home.”

Spectators are invited to park on nearby side streets, then walk to find a spot along the designated parade route on either side of Main or Center streets. They should also bring their own chairs or blankets to sit on.

Spectators will not be allowed to sit in or along the parade staging area, which is in the parking lot of Southern Utah University’s Sorenson Physical Education building, northwest of the intersection of 300 West and University Boulevard/Center Street.

Streets in the parade route area will be blocked off by law enforcement starting at 8 a.m. Saturday, with limited access until the parade is over and all entries have made it back to the staging area. Participants will be able to access that staging area parking lot from the lot’s north side for the initial lineup starting at 8 a.m.

Carter said those participating in the parade will also be asked to observe social distancing guidelines.

“A mask is not required to participate in the parade, but if you feel it necessary to wear one, feel free,” she said, adding, “Please stay close to your entry, do not wander, and if you are sick or have been recently sick, stay home.”

Organizers also said there will be no family games and activities taking place in Main Street Park following Saturday’s parade.

“Unfortunately, the city park activities sponsored by the Lions Club have been canceled this year,” Carter said. “Because we are still in the yellow risk category, the requirements have made it extremely difficult and impractical for us to continue with this event.”

Residents will, however, be able to view the city’s traditional fireworks show later that evening, with the pyrotechnics scheduled to be launched from their customary location near the airport starting at about 10 p.m.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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