Saugerties pays tribute to essential workers with a 31-mile motorcade parade

Fire engines and participating organizations line up at Cantines Field at the start of the parade.

The pandemic may have forced local communities to change their Independence Day plans, but the July Fourth weekend still gave people across the Hudson Valley opportunities to celebrate. 

A traditional summer highlight in Saugerties has been the annual July 4 parade, with participation from fire departments around Ulster County and floats from many community organizations. The coronavirus pandemic, however, forced the event to be split among the various fire departments within Saugerties, and to travel to all the hamlets, a run of about 31 miles.


“There are six fire departments in Saugerties, and they are all represented,” said Stan O’Dell, one of the two parade chairmen — the other was Scott Campbell.

Along with the fire engines were automobiles carrying Saugerties town-board members and representing various organizations in the town. Private individuals were not included in the parade.

The route took the procession from the Village of Saugerties through the hamlets of Glasco, Mount Marion, Centerville, Cedar Grove, Saxton and Malden.

“We can’t hit every neighborhood, but in each quadrant there will be a place where people can view it, be it a fire station, a school or the Elks Lodge,” O’Dell said. “Everything is different, but we will do it in a way to honor it, but make sure that everybody is safe.”

A Saugerties fire truck approaches the turn at Main and Market streets. In the background is the daily vigil for Black Lives Matter. (Photos by David Gordon)

Compared to previous parades, this was something of an anticlimax, but with the distance it needed to cover, the types of vehicles had to be limited, O’Dell said. “We couldn’t have floats, or hay wagons, or flat-bed trailers.”

A flyer giving details of the route included a note asking viewers to “please follow all social-distancing and mask-wearing protocols.”

Parades were also held in New Paltz and Kingston.

Municipalities across Ulster County held their own motorcades honoring Independence Day and essential workers on July 5. In an effort to ensure crowds didn’t move from one town’s motorcade to another throughout the day, each was held at roughly the same time.

In lieu of municipal fireworks displays, an “Independence Weekend Salute” to essential workers was held on July 4 over the TechCity complex in Ulster.