Applications needed for Rockford’s 4th of July parade, officials worry about low turnout

Local News

ROCKFORD, Ill.(WTVO) — It’s hard to believe we’re a little over a month away from the return of Rockford’s 4th of July festivities!

A few short weeks separate us from fireworks, live music, family activities and of course, the patriotic parade. Applications for the parade are now open.

Businesses and organizations can choose to march on foot, drive in a decorated vehicle or create a float. Organizers think that COVID-19 restrictions could be a factor playing into low turnout.

“We don’t expect this to be a normal year,” said Tom Luepkes, the Co-chairman of Rockford 4th of July Civic Committee.

With a little over a month to go, Rockford’s 4th of July Co-chair is hopeful more decked-out floats will make it into this year’s parade.

“In 2019, we had over 120 units in the parade,” Luepkes said. “Currently right now, 4 weeks away from the 4th, we have about 25 solid applicants that have sent applications back in.”

“I think a lot of it might be the fact that we received permission from the city a little bit later in the year than we have in years past.”

Luepkes says there is still time to fill out the application.

“We encourage others that have organizations or individuals that are community based as well to contact us, and let’s get together. Let’s celebrate this great country,” said Luepkes. “This year we anticipate closer to 50,000, but that’s people from all over the place. We get people from Texas, Kentucky, they come here to see our fireworks show and be part of our parade and they have been for years.”

If the idea of large crowds makes you nervous, Health Director Dr. Sandra Martell says the county could be on track to be 70% fully vaccinated by the holiday.

“There is no reason why we can’t get there,” said Dr. Martell. “It’s a matter of choice and a matter of all of us collectively moving together, so that we can all be on the Jefferson Street bridge and the Morgan Street Bridge as those fireworks go off without worrying about, am I socially distanced, who’s wearing a mask? We can be there together.”

“Whatever the new normal is, let’s make that normal together. Let’s celebrate this country together and get a sense of togetherness again in this community,” Luepkes added.

A trophy will be awarded to the coolest float. Applications are due June 11th.

Click here to apply.

Hear from Independence Day organizers coming up tonight on Eyewitness News at 9 and 10.

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