BY ANYA KAUFFMAN | COMMUNITY NEWS SERVICE | JULY 1, 2020
In place of Hinesburg’s long-standing Fourth of July parade, a home float option will be this year’s main attraction due to COVID-19.
Every year, Hinesburg’s parade and fireworks includes different activities and brings lots of people to the town, according to Hinesburg Recreation coordinator Jennifer McCuin.
“It’s usually a really big celebration and a holiday for our town,” McCuin said.
This year, Hinesburg residents are encouraged to make a float at their house to show spirit. People can send in photos of their creations to be webcasted, and people are also encouraged to drive by and see their neighbors’ floats.
The hope is for the home float to serve as a socially-distanced, yet still social parade option, according to McCuin. Although the Fourth will look different, this option still provides people with the opportunity to show spirit, team up with neighbors and win prizes, she said.
“It’s just one of those things I guess you have to think, ‘safety over tradition,’” said Tom Giroux, longtime Recreation Commission member and lifelong Hinesburg resident. Giroux has been working on the annual parade for about 20 years.
A main difference this year will be the event’s relationships to its local businesses, McCuin said. Most years, businesses are asked to donate for the event’s prizes. However, this year, the Recreation Department will be purchasing fifty dollar gift certificates for service or product from each of these same businesses.
The Recreation Commission came up with this idea in order to support their local businesses during the pandemic, especially since the businesses have donated to the parade for many years prior, McCuin said.
The Recreation Department has not received any complaints about the event’s altered presentation this year, according to McCuin. People understand that circumstances are and need to be different, she said
“[There] are bigger things that are more difficult. And so much has been taken away, and so much has changed, that probably most people aren’t surprised,” McCuin said.
For recreational activities in the near future, McCuin said events will have to comply with CDC and Vermont guidelines.
“In terms of future recreation programs, it will likely be smaller groups, more outside options, more space involved to adhere to social distancing,” McCuin said.
McCuin said it is hard to plan in this pandemic, but that some recreational activities are starting back up again. Some tennis lessons and horseback riding sessions, in small numbers and with staggered drop offs, were run this past week.
“Everything that we’re doing is just different. Different protocol,” McCuin said.
Community News Service is a collaboration with the University of Vermont’s Reporting & Documentary Storytelling program.