Friday Fourth of July Parade Draws Smaller Crowds, Divided Opinions to Park City
The Fourth of July weekend kicked off in Park City Friday morning with the return of the Main Street parade. After a year hiatus due to COVID-19, many were ecstatic to be back, but some were not so happy to see the parade moved from its traditional date.
Citing ongoing COVID-19 concerns and public feedback that preceded the pandemic asking the city to scale back the Fourth of July and make it more local, the Park City Council moved the parade from the traditional 4th to Friday, July 2nd in May.
Some people weren’t so enthusiastic about that decision. Dan Woodhead lives in Park City and has been a loyal parade goer for the last 22 years. He said what made Park City’s parade special was that it was always on the 4th.
“Park City has always been exclusive to hold it on the 4th, even though it was on Sunday and that’s what made it special here,” said Woodhead. “It’s great today, it’s beautiful to have the parade, but the 4th is the 4th.”
One year ago, Park City looked much different. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of nearly all of the city’s events, including the much-loved Fourth of July parade.
The pandemic still loomed over much of everyday life when city officials were looking to schedule this year’s festivities. Large-scale vaccinations were just getting going in the state, and having to plan months ahead for a major summer event made many members of the Park City Council uneasy. Other Utah communities were similarly worried. Almost all the cities along the Wasatch Front either scheduled their parades on Saturday the 3rd or are having no parade at all.
Friday’s parade did accomplish what the city hoped it would. Although Main Street was crowded, it was easy to spread out and people could show up minutes before and still get a front-row seat, a near impossible feat in previous years. The China Bridge parking garage on Swede Alley, where the KPCW studio is located, was not full by the time the parade started just after 11am.
Many people loved the changes. Jeff Coleman, another long-time Parkite, said Friday harkened back to earlier days in Park City.
“I thought it was super fun and actually reminds me of some of the early days when everything was a little bit more low key,” said Coleman. “Everything has gotten on steroids for the last bunch of years. Always fun, but it reminds me more of those early days where people were at Mileti’s and having cocktails on the street and you knew most of the people. It’s a lot more user friendly. I’m happy about it.”
The symbolism of a parade on the 4th aside, there were legitimate concerns from some members of the community about moving the parade to a weekday.
One 19-year resident of Prospector, who asked to remain anonymous, said not only did she not support moving the parade from the 4th, but a Friday event makes it hard for much of the city’s workforce to participate.
“Because it’s not the 4th of July, it’s Friday, people have to work, so I was not in support of that, but I’m glad the city did something, even though they chose to do it on the 2nd as opposed to the 4th,” she said. “I’m glad that they at least had a parade.”
John and Mary Lou Gottschall have been enjoying the parade for over two decades. They said they loved the scaled-back approach, but recognized their status as retirees allowed them to get out and enjoy the morning when others may have not had that option.
“I think it’s wonderful, but we’re retired so maybe we have a different attitude,” said John.
“We’ve been coming to this for over 20 years and it’s been so crowded the last five or six, so I was kind of glad to see that it was on Friday this time and it would be a little easier to navigate a parking place and a sitting place,” added Mary Lou.
Crowds are likely returning to Main Street with Silly Market and Car-Free Sunday both on July 4th.