Washington County Coroner Tim Warco has ridden atop a firetruck in Canonsburg’s annual Fourth of July parade for 21 years – and it would be 22, if it weren’t for a plan to downsize this year.
The Canonsburg parade committee decided to limit the number of participants this year in order to trim an event that has “gotten a little bloated” over the past two years, according to parade Co-Chairman Sean Terling.
Canonsburg Mayor David Rhome and Canonsburg council members were the only elected officials invited to walk or ride along the parade route this year. Other cuts included two car clubs and any fire department that is not in the immediate Canonsburg area.
Terling said the committee hopes the parade, which usually lasts over three hours, can be reduced to no more than two hours.
Although it “wasn’t an easy decision,” Terling said many residents have other holiday plans, and watching scores of cars and walkers can be more daunting than delightful.
“We looked at it and tried to evaluate it from an entertainment value and see where we could get the most bang for our buck,” he said.
Warco said he was disappointed in the decision and questioned whether cutting elected officials from the parade would actually save time. He enjoyed taking his nephew on a fire truck that chugged along the parade route, and he hoped to continue that tradition with his grandson once he was old enough.
“I’m like a big kid. I enjoyed that parade, and I looked forward to it,” he said. “I hope they achieve their motivation by downsizing, and if they continue to downsize, maybe no one will come.”
State Rep. Brandon Neuman, D-North Strabane, said he had not heard about the parade cuts, but he still plans on attending even if he cannot participate.
“It’s great for the town, and it’s great for Canonsburg,” he said. “It draws a lot of good attention to a small town. If I’m not going to be in the parade, I guess they’ll tell me soon.”
Washington County Commissioner Diana Irey Vaughan has participated in the Canonsburg parade for about 18 years, but she did not object to the plan to downsize.
“The parade has gotten longer over the years, and it’s certainly understandable, them having to downsize,” she said, adding that she will be happy to watch the parade from the crowd. “They do a terrific job with the parade.”
Terling said the committee has received some backlash for the decision, but he urges elected officials to join larger clubs or organizations to participate in the parade, which would be more time effective than each individual having his or her own car. State Sen. Tim Solobay, D-Canonsburg, is also the first assistant chief of Canonsburg’s Volunteer Fire Department, so he will be riding a fire truck in the parade. Terling said that ultimately, the decision to downsize was nothing personal, and “if there are people that are turned away, hopefully they understand.”