by Heidi L. Everett
The sidewalks of St. Joseph are typically lined with lawn chairs and blankets every July 4 as thousands of local residents and out-of-towners make their way to Minnesota Street for the annual parade. This year, a decision will be made on whether or not the parade marches on by May 15.
The Fourth of July Parade has been put on by the St. Joseph Lions Club since 1964. Ken and Mary Stommes have been parade co-chairs for the last 10 years. The parade was cancelled in 2020 due to COVID-19 safety restrictions. The same may be true in 2021.
“Our decision is totally about COVID restrictions,” Ken said. “We have no way to control anything. And we need volunteers, but there is reluctance.”
The decision is further complicated by the fact Joe-Town Rocks parish festival and live concert, held annually on July 3, was cancelled. Donald Kettler, bishop of the Diocese of St. Cloud, issued a letter March 19 stating parish festivals remain prohibited due to the continuing threat of COVID-19.
“The church’s decision muddies the water a little bit because we are interconnected,” Stommes said. “These events aren’t money makers. They are community services that need community support.”
A decision on fireworks has not been made yet. Like the parish festival and parade, that piece of the annual celebration is facilitated by other organizations within the community.