Bell County residents are geared up to celebrate a unique Independence Day after the region saw a recent spike in COVID-19 infections.
Belton’s traditional Fourth of July parade has been canceled, but the Belton Area Chamber of Commerce emphasized other events will continue — some even virtually.
The Belton Fourth of July Virtual Parade will be broadcasted on KCEN-TV at 10 a.m. Saturday, after compiling video submissions from local residents, organizations and businesses.
“While we are all disappointed that we will not be able to participate in the traditional parade, we are excited about providing this opportunity for our community,” Randy Pittenger, the Belton Area Chamber of Commerce president, said in a news release.
However, some residents are planning a parade of their own. Stephanie Griffith organized the “Fourth of July Citizens Parade” on Facebook, which will begin at 10 a.m., according to the event page.
“The organizers have kind of reached out to us to try and see what was possible and so they have been good about consistently sharing a message that they plan to obey traffic laws,” city of Belton spokesman Paul Romer told the Telegram. “We look at this parade much like we would a convoy of cars going to a high school football game. They’re all decorated patriotically and they’re going to head down the (typical) parade route. We hope that they have a good time and if you see them honk and wave.”
The Belton Fourth of July PRCA Rodeo will conclude on Saturday with its final performance scheduled for 7 p.m.
“We are excited about the 96th annual Belton Fourth of July PRCA Rodeo,” Pittenger said. “We’ll be following the governor’s orders and local guidelines also. We ask everybody to put their boots and masks on, and come enjoy the rodeo.”
Pittenger said the Bell County Expo Center staff has done a fantastic job of facilitating a “safe and comfortable environment,” as only 50 percent of the facility’s capacity will be used.
The Fourth of July Backyard Party at Schoepf’s BBQ — which runs from 6-10 p.m., and features a concert and fireworks show — also will carry on Saturday evening.
“We have permission from the Belton mayor to have that event, and all of the guidelines will be followed,” Pittenger said.
Although Temple Mayor Tim Davis announced late Thursday the cancellation of the H-E-B All American Drive-In Fireworks show, city officials said that they plan to reschedule the fireworks display at another event in the future once it is safe to do so.
The decision came as a response to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order Thursday that limits gathering to no more than 10 people.
The Historic Preservation League of Temple also has refrained from their annual parade, and has replaced it with a socially distant alternative.
Historic district residents are encouraged to cheer, wave flags and play patriotic music outside their Fourth of July-themed homes beginning at 9 a.m. on Saturday. Organizers believe this is the parade’s first cancellation in 31 years.
The Fort Hood Independence Day Fireworks will run from 9:30-10 p.m. Saturday, and spectators are asked to watch from lots adjacent to the U.S. Hood Stadium on the military post.
“Social distance in your vehicle with designated parking areas for viewing the fireworks and tune in to patriotic music provided by K Rock 101.7,” a Facebook event page said.