Citizens groups and Superior city officials are rolling up their sleeves with the hope that this year’s Independence Day will mark not only the nation’s declaration of freedom from England, but freedom from a virus that has impacted the world.

With vaccines ramping up and new infections remaining relatively stable, plans are in the works for a full complement of activities during Superior’s 4th of July Celebration.

“I think we’re going to go 100% on the Fourth of July,” Mayor Jim Paine said. “Fireworks, the car show, big events on the island — everything. We need a party.”

Dan O’Neill, chairman of the Citizens 4th of July Committee, admits they “hemmed and hawed” a little bit at the idea of holding the parade as the pandemic continues. In the end, it was decided that if another surge happens, it could be canceled, but it definitely wouldn’t happen if no one planned for it.

“I heard they’re having the car show; they’re having the fireworks,” O’Neill said. “Superior’s doing everything it used to do. We might as well have the parade, too. The people need something.”

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O’Neill got busy updating the committee’s website and preparing entry forms.

After all, after canceling last year’s parade and with the death of one of the parade’s longest serving and founding members last year, this year’s parade will take on special meaning.

This year’s parade will be dedicated to David Stannard, who died at age 81 in November.

“For me personally — this should be dedicated to David,” O’Neill said. “So we have to do it … It wouldn’t be right to end it right here. That was kind of the main thing for me.”

Stannard dedicated 22 years of his life to making sure the Fourth of July parade happened every year after responding to a 1997 Telegram ad seeking volunteers to revive the city's Independence Day celebration.

Mac Sports & Marine won best float at the 2019 Superior Fourth of July parade.  (Jed Carlson / File / Telegram)
Mac Sports & Marine won best float at the 2019 Superior Fourth of July parade. (Jed Carlson / File / Telegram)

The only event that wasn’t entirely canceled last year, but was modified in light of the pandemic, will be back on Tower Avenue this year with a twist: the car show.

Last year, the car show became a cruise and ended up being three car shows at the various stops, according to organizer Michele Haltli. She said the event was so popular last year, a breakfast cruise is likely to start at 8 a.m. and end in time for the parade at 11 a.m.

During the parade, organizers will set up the car show on Tower Avenue, keeping with the tradition Dennis Van Alstein started before his death five years ago. Haltli said like car shows past, entries will be free, participants will get a free t-shirt and bands will be performing, this time with one more band performing later than past years.

Haltli said she’s still working out the details for the breakfast cruise and where bands will perform, the bands are lined up and will include Dog Talk, Born Too Late (teens performing music from the 1950s and 60s) and After Shock. Bands will be performing during the car show. 1-7 p.m., right up until the fireworks at 10 p.m.

By moving the car show back to Tower Avenue, Halti said that it will create a nice separation for families that want to participate in activities on Barker’s Island and those who want a more street-dance atmosphere.

Activities on Barker’s Island are still in the planning stages, said Linda Cadotte, Superior’s Parks, Recreation and Forestry director.

“Coronavirus numbers have plateaued a little bit,” Paine said. “They really have plunged in the last few months, especially with vaccines. Vaccines are just climbing by the day. Plus, we have no evidence that outdoor activity really spreads coronavirus now. The president of the United States is saying we could be looking at a normal Fourth of July.

"Combine all that, I see no reason that it can’t be something of a celebration of a return to normal," Paine said.