Whitemarsh likely to cancel 4th of July parade

The Whitemarsh Township Board of Supervisors will be reviewing the recommendation by the Whitemarsh Township 4th of July Parade Executive Committee to cancel the township’s annual 4th of July parade. The review will take place during the board of supervisors’ virtual meeting on May 6th at 6:00 p,m.

From the committee’s recommendation memo:

The 4th of July Parade Executive Committee held a Zoom call on Tuesday, April 27th at 8am. The above attendees carefully discussed the viability of operating the 2021 4th of July Parade given COVID CDC regulations and the current changing guidelines. It was determined unanimously to recommend cancelling the 2021 4th of July Parade given the current available information and COVID guidelines, and out of an abundance of caution for public safety.

There is great inconsistency among local municipalities on planning outdoor events such as parades, car shows, and township days.

For example, Conshohocken is holding an art and car show along Fayette Street on June 5th. There really isn’t much difference between this event and a parade as there is no way to limit the crowd that attends. Ambler is also holding its car show on August 29th.

Lower Gwynedd recently canceled Pike Fest, its annual township-type day in September. Its board of supervisors stated that there wasn’t time to plan the event and the pandemic. While Whitemarsh is likely to cancel its July 4th parade, it has scheduled and is promoting its township day on September 18th (it’s usually held in April). Plymouth Township is holding its township day on June 21st.

Further in the recommendation it reads:

In addition, on Friday, April 16th, the Department spoke with the Montgomery County Office of Public Health – Anita Capone Weil, Environmental Health Specialist, regarding Special Events in Montgomery County and the Whitemarsh Township 4th of July Parade. She directed that all CDC Guidelines would need to be followed and enforced for the event to take place. This included masks, social distancing, and all required sanitizations. She noted that large event gatherings are currently at 250 people in attendance. She commented that it is rapidly changing and may increase to 500 by the time for the parade. She was not sure how we could operate a mass parade gathering safely with enforcement given the structure and numbers for our Whitemarsh event.

The 250 limit on outdoor events mentioned in the recommendation is not accurate. The last guidance from the State of Pennsylvania (which is based on the CDC guidelines) is that outdoor events could have up to 50% venue capacity. From the governor’s March 15th directive:

The governor also announced revised maximum occupancy limits for indoor events to allow for 25% of maximum occupancy, regardless of venue size, and maximum occupancy limits for outdoor events to allow for 50% of maximum occupancy, regardless of venue size. Maximum occupancy is permitted only if attendees and workers are able to comply with the 6-foot physical distancing requirement.

While Philadelphia has more restrictive capacity limits than the state (25% outdoor capacity limit instead of 50%), NBCSports.com reports that the Phillies had 11,000 people at its third game. Large outdoor gatherings are already taking place.

The 250 limit likely refers to a form one must complete to have the Montgomery County Office of Public Health review and approve a safety plan to hold an outdoor event for more than 250 people. The form starts by saying the Office of Public Health “limits” gatherings of more than 250 but then provides instructions to have a larger event approved.

Let us know what you think in the comments.