The City of Belton and the Belton Chamber of Commerce announced Friday that this year's 4th of July parade will be virtual, citing public health concerns.

Both organizations issued statements explaining why they have decided against organizing a traditional parade in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a news release, City of Belton officials said the decision came after weeks of discussions with the Chamber, Bell County, Bell County Public Health District, and other stakeholders.

“This was such a difficult decision for all of us,” Mayor Marion Grayson said. “We will still celebrate the Fourth of July in Belton this year, but it will just look a little different.”

How different? Well, that isn't entirely clear yet, but Chamber officials said Friday that in lieu of the traditional parade, plans are being finalized for a virtual parade consisting of videos submitted by various individuals and organizations, and awards will still be presented in a number of categories.

They're still in the planning phase, and more details are expected soon.

(Meanwhile, the Downtown Street Party that had been scheduled for June 27 has been postponed. The tentative date is in October.)

"Many options and alternatives have been explored over the last several weeks in order to continue to hold these valued annual events", Chamber officials said. "The logistics of staffing and following the health and safety guidelines and precautions have proven to be problematic for a traditional parade and festival, but the potential for a virtual parade is generating excitement and enthusiasm for participation by an even wider range of groups."

It's not all going to be virtual, though.

According to both the City and the Chamber, the 96th Annual PRCA Rodeo at the Bell County Expo Center is still happening July 2nd-4th.

The Backyard Party at Schoepf’s is still a go as well, with concerts from Kevin Fowler on Friday, July 3 and Sprung on Saturday, July 4. The fireworks show will go on as well.

“We appreciate the process that preceded this decision,” City Manager Sam Listi said. "The Chamber’s dedication to the Fourth of July in Belton, thoroughness in exploring options, and creativity during unprecedented times really has been impressive. They remain a great partner with us.”

“This outcome is not about limiting freedom" Listi added. "It is about using freedom in a way that safeguards the community during a public health crisis, based on all available information. We hope next year to use those same freedoms to gather and celebrate American independence in a more traditional Belton way.”

What do you think about the Belton 4th of July Parade being virtual this year? Do you agree with their reasoning, or would you prefer the traditional parade? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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