In a year that has seen traditions stumble or fail, New Haven plans to begin a brand new tradition.

The Independence Day Parade and Picnic will fill the Allen County city’s downtown and adjacent park on Saturday, July 4.

Recent high school and college graduates who missed out on commencement ceremonies will have their moment in that inaugural Fourth of July parade.

Even in issuing the upbeat announcement, the office of Mayor Steven McMichael reinforced the social distancing guidelines that have become expected during the COVID-19 pandemic. The news release went on to explain that the entire event is subject to Indiana’s continued progress in safely reopening from the weeks of shelter in place and similar precautions.

In an innovative twist, New Haven made provisions for the public to take in the parade and live concert in person or online, so more people will feel free to enjoy the festivities. Those events will live stream on the City’s Facebook page, City of New Haven Indiana.

The city is accepting applications for parade participants and food vendors. Applications must be submitted by Friday, June 12. Find applications at NewHaven.IN.Gov or on the city’s Facebook page.

The parade will begin at 11 a.m. at the corner of Main Street and Broadway Street, with spaced out viewing areas from Powers Street to Schnelker Park.

The opening ceremony will begin with Tom Didier, who will sing the national anthem. After a tribute to the military, the parade will head south on Broadway and end at Schnelker Park. The picnic will begin immediately after the parade.

Indiana-based country singer/songwriter Trevor Hunt will perform live under the band shell. Audiences typically bring lawn chairs or place blankets on the surrounding lawn.

“We are encouraging high school and college graduates that live in New Haven to join us in the parade,” the city said in the announcement. “Graduates who are interested will need to fill out the parade entry form and list the school you are graduating from as the organization.”

If Gov. Eric Holcomb does not approve the state to move to Stage 5 of pandemic recovery, the event will be postponed. “We will be following state protocol and urge the public to follow social distancing guidelines,” the city said. “We encourage you not to congregate in one area. It is strongly recommended that everyone stand 6 feet apart. Wearing a face mask is strongly encouraged.”

The announcement follows a wave of cancellations of public celebrations. Trademark festivals at Headwaters Park in neighboring Fort Wayne were canceled. New Haven gave up its signature Canal Days. Nearby Woodburn and Hoagland canceled June celebrations.

New Haven is a hub of activities in a typical summer, including a farmer’s market and frequent themed business promotions. Like most communities, the calendar was scrubbed clean during the battle against the coronavirus. Even the popular Jury Pool will not open this season.

But the city offered a Memorial Day ceremony and now has announced an Independence Day event during McMichael’s first year in office.

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