Every summer, John Fox’s neighborhood turns into its own small town.
The houses are decked out in red, white and blue.
And on the Fourth of July, the neighbors come out for a big bash, complete with a parade.
Fox, president of the Field Club Homeowners League, and other organizers of the holiday event didn’t want to see a longtime tradition — this will be its 39th year — slip away because of the pandemic. They had already had to cancel the neighborhood’s annual fireworks display.
“We immediately wanted to continue the tradition,” Fox said. “Whether there’s a pandemic or not, we wanted to do something to bring everyone together to show the patriotism and continue our traditions.”
Fox and fellow neighborhood leaders consulted with some of the parade’s founders.
That led them to flip the parade concept around.
The floats — which are stationary and can include displays, art or performances — will be set up in yards throughout the historic neighborhood.
Spectators can tour the streets on foot, bicycle or by car to see the displays.
This year’s parade, or Edarap (parade spelled backward) as organizers are calling it, runs from 10:30 a.m. to noon on July 4.
For the first time, the event will span the entire neighborhood. Signs will be posted showing the route to all of the displays.
So far, there are about 30 entries for this year’s event. That’s on par with typical years, Fox said.
Displays will include a demonstration of the Constitution and a giant American flag on a front yard.
Fox’s home will look like a polling place.
Organizers are strongly encouraging social distancing and other safety precautions. No candy or snacks will be handed out, and attendees are asked to keep a safe distance from others while walking the route.
“We want our neighbors to be able to celebrate safely,” Fox said.
Past events have drawn up to 800 spectators, Fox said, some neighbors and some from other parts of the metro area. With other neighborhood and city celebrations canceled or more private, Fox expects more Omahans to pop by the festivities.
The Fourth of July parade has a way of uniting the neighborhood, Fox said. It helps neighbors overcome political divides and different backgrounds.
“It’s a really small-town Americana feel,” Fox said. “It truly feels like a historic district in a small town celebrating being American.”