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Canceled: July 4th Independence Day parade on National Mall has been canceled

The 257th Army Band, performs during National Independence Day Parade on July 4th, 2019 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Anthony Small, D.C. National Guard/Released)
April 09, 2021

The National Park Service is skipping the Independence Day Parade on the National Mall in Washington D.C. this year.

In a statement on Thursday, the National Park Service said, “After much thought and consideration, the National Park Service and Diversified Events have canceled this year’s National Independence Day Parade due to logistics and planning limitations.”

The park service said the marching bands, drill teams and youth organizations that comprise much of the parade on the National Mall typically need between eight and 18 months to prepare for the parade. This year, however, many of those groups have not had the time to prepare or won’t travel due to COVID-19 concerns.

“We are unable to stage a successful event without the excitement and sound provided by these high school bands, drill teams and other youth organizations,” the service said.

The National Park Service statement concluded, “We share everyone’s disappointment in this decision and look forward to presenting this red, white and blue celebration of America’s birthday again on July 4, 2022.”

National Park Service spokesperson Mike Litterst told WTOP News, “The National Park Service and our partner, Diversified Events — who puts on the National Independence Day Parade with us every year — have come to the reluctant but necessary conclusion that we’ll have to cancel this year’s parade.”

Litterst also said there are no plans currently to hold the parade as a virtual event. Virtual events have become popular amid COVID-19 restrictions.

Independence Day celebrations continued uninterrupted on the National Mall last year despite COVID-19 concerns. The parade on the National Mall last year featured many of the customary features, such as marching bands, fife and drum corps, floats, military units, balloons, horse riders, and drill teams as well as numerous military flyovers.

Last year, President Donald Trump also resumed the practice of holding an Independence Day celebration and fireworks show at Mount Rushmore in South Dakota. Before Trump, the last Independence Day celebrations at Mt. Rushmore took place in 2009.

This year, the National Park Service denied a request from the State of South Dakota to again hold the fireworks display at Mount Rushmore, The Hill reported. NPS Regional Director Herbert Frost wrote, “Potential risks to the park itself and to the health and safety of employees and visitors associated with the fireworks demonstration continue to be a concern and are still being evaluated as a result of the 2020 event. In addition, the park’s many tribal partners expressly oppose fireworks at the Memorial.”

Frost added, “These factors, compiled with the COVID-19 pandemic, do not allow a safe and responsible fireworks display to be held at this site.”

President Joe Biden’s administration has continued to cite COVID-19 concerns in assessing major holiday celebrations. In March, during his first address as president, Biden said Americans need to continue wearing masks and social distancing. Biden said, “If we do all this, if we do our part, if we do this together, by July the 4th, there’s a good chance you, your families, and friends will be able to get together in your backyard or in your neighborhood and have a cookout and a barbeque and celebrate Independence Day. That doesn’t mean large events with lots of people together, but it does mean small groups will be able to get together.”