FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Fort Rucker’s celebration of America’s birthday will feature plenty of oohs and ahhs despite Freedom Fest being canceled in favor of a smaller celebration that will include a parade through the housing areas July 4 and a fireworks display because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.The July 4 Celebration and Home Town Parade will climax at 9 p.m. with a fireworks display reminiscent of past Freedom Fests, according to Mike Garcia, Directorate of Family, and Morale, Welfare and Recreation community recreation director.A big difference this year is that the parade and fireworks are open to Department of Defense ID card holders only, Garcia said, adding that officials were faced with difficult decisions this year because of the pandemic.“We know we can’t have large groups, so what can we do? There were alternatives discussed, even canceling the entire thing,” he said. “We made the decision to go with the parade and the fireworks because if this is not the time to celebrate our independence, I don’t know when is.“We really wanted to do something for the Fort Rucker community on July 4, and our intent was to get the community to rally around and do a hometown parade, similar to what you see in small towns throughout America,” he said.That said, people need to keep in mind that the COVID-19 threat is still very much present, so people need to keep their social distancing while watching the parade and the fireworks, Garcia added.To help with that, officials moved the area where the fireworks are set off more into the cantonment area in an effort to make it where people in housing can see them from their front or back yards, he added. “The intent is for people in housing to watch the fireworks from their yards, but people can also use the parking lots around post to watch the fireworks. The biggest thing is people need to maintain the social distancing guidelines. We want to have fun, but we want to be safe.”The parade will begin making its way through the housing areas (see route sidebar) at 5 p.m. Its makeup will include Fort Rucker and community organizations, and pretty much anyone who wants to join up, Garcia said, adding that the parade is open to everyone to allow people to show off their patriotism and enter a friendly competition for most patriotic float, top military float, best small float, best large float and community spirit float categories.Garcia recommends people don’t try to walk the 5 1/2 –mile route, but to use wheeled vehicles instead, although horses will be welcomed, as well.There may also be some surprises in the parade, possibly including some celebrities known throughout the state, he added.For more information or to sign up for the parade, visit https://rucker.armymwr.com/promos/4th-july-celebration-home-town-parade. The deadline to register is June 29.PARADE PATHAccording to the Directorate of Public Safety, the parade will follow the route below.The parade will stage on Boxcar, and then proceed down Andrews and turn left on Christian, then turn left onto Artillery. It will proceed on Artillery past the Triangle Shoppette where the road turns into Farrel. It will proceed on Farrel until turning left onto Division. On Division it will proceed until turning right on to Seventh Avenue, and then taking Seventh until turning right on Red Cloud. It will stay on Red Cloud until exiting the far side of the Munson Heights Housing Community.PERMITTED AND PROHIBITED ITEMSAccording to the Directorate of Public Safety, the following is a list of allowed and prohibited items at the event.PERMITTED* Coolers, tote bags or backpacks are permitted to keep in your vehicle.* Pets are permitted to keep in your vehicle.PROHIBITED* No fireworks.* No glass containers.* No weapons, including guns, knives or pepper spray.* No bicycles, scooters, roller blades, hoverboards or skateboards.