To the Editor:
I think we can all acknowledge that we live in a hyper-political world right now. However, I wholeheartedly hoped that despite our political differences, we could have used the Fourth of July as an opportunity to come together, for one day, in the name of the country that we all love. We could celebrate the freedom and opportunity afforded to us by this great nation, and through that, possibly narrow the divide in our communities.
I was not alone in this line of thinking. A twelve-year-old girl in our Borough saw our annual Fourth of July parade as an opportunity to achieve this goal, so when the fate of this year’s parade was threatened by the pandemic, she had the fantastic idea of a smaller, more socially distant “alternate parade”.
The Chatham Fourth of July Parade is, and has always been, an inclusive and independent event run by the Chatham Volunteer Fire Department. Elected officials of both parties and all ideologies have participated in this event. However, my understanding is that this year, the only elected official allowed to participate in the parade is Rep. Mikie Sherrill.
If the town’s baseline for this specific “alternate parade” is being a current government officeholder, that’s fine - as long as everyone is represented. Assemblyman Jon Bramnick, Senator Tom Kean, and Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz (among others) should be extended an invitation to participate in the same fashion as Mikie Sherrill, as they are our state leaders and Chatham Borough representatives. If the baseline is being a congressional candidate, then an invitation should be extended to Rosemary Becchi, who is also a major party candidate for Congress in our district. However, I don’t believe this is the appropriate venue for showcasing politics. My recommendation: do not allow any political person to participate and focus the attention on the support of our first responders and healthcare workers who have kept our families safe and healthy throughout this COVID-19 pandemic.