Celebrating the Fourth of July celebration

The Brentwood Fourth of July parade is back on.

A week after the City Council shelved the parade to allow city staff time to explore alternate event routes to accommodate reduced COVID-19-spreading measures, the governing body unanimously approved a parade path and several other stipulations that they feel calm past concerns.

The council has opted to scale the event back to one hour; change the proposed route; limit attendance; and implement restricted, socially distant and mask-required viewing areas — all while promising enforcement of the rules.

Brentwood residents are expected to be given two weeks to pre-register to view the event, before it is opened up to all others around the end of June, city officials said.

“I think our city has done a wonderful job,” said City Councilmember Johnny Rodriguez. “Golly, I don’t know how many hours (this plan) has taken for (Recreation Supervisor Stacey Dempsey) and parks and rec staff to put together.”

The July 4 parade, scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m., will start at Birch Street, before heading down 1st Street to Maple Street. It will then make a right on Maple Street to 2nd Street, a right on 2nd Street, a left on Oak Street and finish off at the end of the playground area.

The dedicated viewing crowd is expected to be capped at around 1,100 spectators, who will be required to pre-register for one of an estimated 16 viewing areas along the route. Inside those zones, masks are expected to be required, and attending groups will be socially distanced from one another.

Dempsey hinted that a host of city staff and volunteers will unite to enforce attendance requirements.

“Anyone who wants to come but not be in the viewing areas, whether they are going to a business or they just want to walk downtown, cannot stop and watch the parade in any of those areas that are designated for Americans with Disabilities Act access or in the viewing areas if they do not have a reservation,” she said.

Despite the council’s approval of the event, for much of the three-hour discussion and deliberation, several members wavered on whether an event of its kind should be held.

The retooled event is scheduled to occur about 19 days after the state is antiscipated to roll back its COVID-response regulations, with no projected requirements expected to be placed on events the size of the proposed parade.

However Randy Sawyer, Contra Costa Health Services deputy director, said the event could remain a risk for partially or unvaccinated attendees.

Currently, only 52.5% of Brentwood’s population is fully vaccinated, which ranks 22nd out of 30 county areas tracked by the Contra Costa County Health Services.

There have been 39 COVID cases in Brentwood in the last 14 days, which is the sixth highest out of 31 county areas tracked by health officials.

“It (the parade) is very safe for these people who are fully vaccinated, but for the unvaccinated or partially vaccinated it is still a high-risk situation because you are bringing a lot of people together and they are close together and there is more possibility for the transmission of COVID,” Sawyer said.

City Councilmember Jovita Mendoza acknowledged the difficult decision before the council.

“My biggest fear is that something we do will cause a death, and even one death or someone on a ventilator from Brentwood because of something I did…I don’t think I could forgive myself,” she said.

Mayor Joel Bryant, however, indicated that he believes the parade can be carried out safely, noting that community members have been waiting a long time for an opportunity like a secure parade.

“There is a component of this (pandemic) that we have not really talked a lot about, and that is the mental and emotional challenges and struggles that our families have gone through,” he said. “They have been waiting with great anticipation for an opportunity to participate in something like this in a safe manner that our staff has laid out very safely.”

Brentwood Police Captain Doug Silva said the department intends to evaluate the event details and will provide adequate staffing to maintain order.

It’s expected that Brentwood residents will be given about two weeks to sign up to attend the event, and then pre-registration will open up for all others.

The city expects to release more information on the parade in the future.