National Independence Day Parade canceled for second year in a row

For the second year in a row, the National Independence Day Parade has been cancelled – but maybe not for the reason you’d expect.

In a Thursday afternoon release, the National Park Service blamed logistics and planning limitations for the cancellation, saying, "The marching units that travel across the country to participate in the parade have not had the necessary 8 to 18 months to organize, rehearse and fundraise before making the trip."

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And while concerns about COVID-19 factor into the equation as well, the NPS added, "We are unable to stage a successful event without the excitement and sound provided by these high school bands, drill teams and other youth organizations."

Band directors said it’s a significant missed opportunity for children who may have been able to take part.

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"All the people who went, to this day, they all say the most impactful moment of their life so far was that trip," Manuel Young said Thursday night. He’s the band director at Phillip & Sala Burton High School in San Francisco and led a trip to the National Independence Day Parade in 2019. "They’re missing out on an amazing opportunity because it is such a wonderful experience."

But Young said he does understand why the difficult decision was made. When his kids came to D.C., they held fundraisers for more than a year – and they’re far from alone.

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"If I’m coming from Texas to Washington D.C., that would take me a year," explained Walter Harley, the band director at Oxon Hill High School in Prince George’s County. His kids haven’t taken part in the National Independence Day parade previously, but back in 2008, they traveled to Beijing for the Olympics.

"I would need enough time to raise enough money to make sure that all of my members in my ensemble is able to go," Harley added.

The National Park Service said they look forward to presenting the parade again in 2022.