Photo by Cady Stanton
Photo by Cady Stanton

BARKHAMSTED — This year’s Fourth of July parade in Barkhamsted was missing its typical “Star Band” student musicians, pedestrian-packed streets,
and post-parade ceremony that normally mark the community’s holiday festivities. But even without these trademark characteristics, the town was still able to pull together a fun event for the community on a Saturday morning complete with fire trucks, vintage cars, and plenty of red, white, and blue decorations, all visible from their homes.
Traditionally, the town’s annual holiday parade runs a mile-long route downtown, with residents lining the streets to wave flags and cheer on the side of the road. But due to safety concerns as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, town officials canceled the normal festivities in favor of a socially distanced alternative, with fire trucks, motorbikes, and cars instead extending the parade route to travel along residential roads throughout the town.
The route started at the Town Hall at 10:00 a.m. and traversed a series of local roads so that residents could safely enjoy the parade from home. Organizers aimed to visit as many roads as possible, but could not go down streets with cul-de-sacs due to restrictions on the driving capabilities of participating fire trucks.
Barkhamsted First Selectman Don Stein said that while the new plan was relatively last minute, he hopes as many residents as possible can still enjoy the holiday event from their lawns and front porches.
“We wanted to do something to signify the Fourth,” Stein said . “We have a fifty year, sixty-year tradition. The whole thought is: let’s do this for the people. We have a parade route that’ll take us through 80 percent of the town.”
A host of residents, groups, and leaders all took part in this year’s parade, including the Barkhamsted Senior Center, the Riverton Volunteer Fire Department, the Barkhamsted Lions Club, Riverton Post 159, Barkhamsted East Fire Department, and the Pleasant Valley Fire Department.
In addition to the fire departments and other groups, two local political candidates also drove cars in the parade: Mark Anderson, a Republican running for State Representative in Connecticut’s 62nd District, and Jim Griffin, a Republican from Bristol aiming to run against Democratic incumbent John Larson for Connecticut’s 1st Congressional District.
Dave Roberts, President of the Barkhamsted Lions Club, participated in the parade with his organization for the first time this year. He appreciated the town’s resilience to still hold an event despite the challenges of COVID-19.
“Doing a caravan this year I think was a great alternative,” Roberts said. “The town wanted to demonstrate community spirit and showed that we’re not going to let this pandemic stop us.”
Bill Downes, Vice President of Barkhamsted East Fire Department, agreed that the new version of the parade was a safe substitute for normal festivities.
“I’ve done the Barkhamsted parade since 2006. I think it’s a wonderful thing that we’re doing it and we’re taking the parade to the citizens,” Downes said. “It’s the only format to safely do it. I don’t think we could line people up and have the band and everything that they normally have.”
Despite last-minute adjustments and planning, the town still had a lot of participation from the community, according to Stein.
“Considering we’ve only been organizing this for the last week, week and a half, it’ll be what it is, it’s a small town,” Stein said. “I think it still signifies what we’re trying to accomplish.”

All photos by Cady Stanton

Cady Stanton is a freelance journalist based in Colebrook, Conn. A graduate of Georgetown University, she has previously published articles in The Hill, The Hoya and Washington Monthly.