Double Ender Committee plans a parade

Thu, 03/18/2021 - 5:30pm

You can always cancel an event, but if you don’t plan for it first, you can’t have it at all. That seems to be the approach various organizations and town boards are taking when it comes to planning spring and summer events on the island.

The Double Ender Committee, an independent not-for-profit group, is hoping for the best as they make plans for the annual Fourth of July parade and fi reworks. The fi reworks display, usually held on July 3, will instead be on Friday, July 2, and the parade is scheduled for Monday, July 5. The theme this year is “Celebrate America.”

The organizers say that both events will be held according to any guidelines issued by the R.I. Department of Health that are in place for the weekend of July 4, and that they have consulted with both the New Shoreham Police Department and Dr. Warcup of the Block Island Medical Center. “And we really thought that the island would be ready for a party.”

Based on last summer and fall’s numbers, all indications are that Block Island, once again, will have a flourishing, thriving summer season. Last year not only proved that nothing could keep people away, but that the island was perceived as an oasis, and plenty of people flocked here for a “close to home but far away” experience, as the Block Island Tourism Council says.

As states move towards easing restrictions for indoor and outdoor activities, Rhode Island is doing the same. Restrictions for indoor dining are loosening and going into effect on March 19. Restaurants may then go up to 75 percent capacity and patrons may sit at the bar once again, as long as they are eating food. The number of guests at weddings will increase to 100 indoors and 200 outdoors.

“They keep moving the goalposts,” said Block Island Tourism Director Jessica Willi at that organization’s meeting on March 9. But unlike last year, when the goalposts moved ever farther away, this year they’re moving closer.

Willi said the parade was a “new development.”

Tourism Council Chair David Houseman said that other communities were planning for their traditional activities, including Bristol, which has the oldest Fourth of July Parade in the country. “It’s nice how it spreads out over the whole weekend,” he said of the schedule.

“Hopefully we can support the parade,” said Tourism member Steve Filippi. “It’s our patriotic duty.”

Member John Cullen said his “first inclination was that the parade should be on the fourth.” But on thinking about it, it’s “not such a crazy idea to have it on Monday.”

Bristol is also having its parade on the fifth, as they usually do when the fourth falls on a Sunday.

The Double Enders, in a press release state: “The members of the committee did not want the parade to conflict with church and other family events that may be scheduled for Sunday, July 4.”

“We will be working closely with the New Shoreham Police Department to ensure that all of us are in strict compliance with the rules so that these events can happen safely and happily, and we just want to remind everyone that we will adjust and adapt these events to the measures that are in place if we have to.”

“We also felt that ‘Celebrate America’ was the right theme for this year. It’s a theme that could encompass everything from historic events, American ingenuity and innovation, sports, music, movies, what-have you,” said the members of the Double Enders Committee. “We hope that everyone will put on their thinking caps and come up with some really fun floats.”

Recreation Dept. planning Shad Bloom Race

The Recreation Department is also busy planning for events. At the board’s meeting on March 16, they discussed not only the annual Shad Bloom Race, to be held May 8, but summer plans for Camp Mohegan and sports camps. 

They too are hoping that participation limits for their programs will be expanded and will be paying close attention to what state guidelines will be as they evolve.

The Shad Bloom Race can be limited to 200 participants, in keeping with the outdoor event limit that goes into effect on March 19. Another accommodation they are making is to have staggered starting times. Technology has made it possible to track individual start and finish times with a chip inserted in the racers’ bibs so that they don’t need to cluster together. Recreation Director Dave Sniffen said there would be no indoor gathering before the race and that changes would be made to the awards ceremony.

The Rec Department is also planning for Camp Mohegan, although they’re not sure where it will be. Summer sports camps for soccer, basketball, and baseball are on track as well. They are hoping to add some sort of sailing and/or kayaking programs, also and to bring back the Fall Family Festival in October.

And pickleball? There’s no need to wait for summer for that. Members of the community play pickleball every Sunday (weather permitting) at Ball O’Brien Park. Just show up.