The Fourth of July parade in the city of Delaware will have a new organizer this year.
The Delaware County Farm Bureau’s Organization Director Steve Berk informed the city in a letter sent in January that it will no longer handle the parade and they “wish the best of luck to the next civic organization that takes up this worthwhile endeavor.”
Berk told The Gazette Thursday the bureau is extremely appreciative for having the opportunity to organize the event for many years.
“We want to personally thank Doug and Cathy Dawson, who volunteered countless hours to help make the parade such a success. Their leadership made the parade a highlight of the summer,” he said.
Berk added, “We have decided to focus our efforts on engaging the community on a wider variety of agriculture topics, including supporting local FFA chapters, providing grain bin rescue equipment to area fire departments and water quality issues that impact us all.”
The new organizer is Erik Boeriu, a manager at Delaware Marine on Sunbury Road. The local resident was one of four people who reached out to Mayor Carolyn Kay Riggle last weekend to take over the event.
Boeriu said he met with the mayor Wednesday to go over parade details. He plans to submit his application.
The DCFB has “done a great job the last few years” with the parade, he said. And it has provided him contacts to get the event up and running. Boeriu has participated in prior years by riding in an old fire truck from Ashley.
He acknowledged an incident at the parade last year when some entries had Confederate flag displays as part of the parade. The DCFB said at the time it was disappointed with the displays and in the future would develop protocols to have parade entries fit with the spirit of the holiday.
“I see it more as a freedom of speech thing … [but] I don’t see it being in the Fourth of July parade,” Boeriu said. He plans to have a meeting this weekend on how to handle situations where people just come to the parade to show the flag. Boeriu considers that the biggest issue.
“It’s not something we want to have in the parade,” he said.
Riggle said she was excited that residents felt as strongly as she did about having the parade, citing her strong patriotic convictions.
“I was crushed there wasn’t going to be one,” she said.
The city of Delaware does not sponsor the event, but provides in-kind support services for the parade, concert and fireworks.
The parade is planned to start at its usual time at 3 p.m. in Delaware July 4. Those interested in volunteering can reach Boeriu at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gazette reporter Brandon Klein can be reached by email or on Twitter at @brandoneklein.