The annual Marple Newtown Fourth of July Parade in Delaware County is an event made for families.
With two miles of prime grassy space alongside its parade route, the route makes a straight path down West Chester Pike to the new Broomall Fire Station. Families took advantage of the beautiful, albeit hot, Fourth of July, to set up their chairs and tents and watch the parade.
But this year there was a new addition to the decades-old parade: a “quiet zone.” For about a tenth of a mile, as the parade passes by, no loud sirens blared and there were no jolting noises. It’s all the fun of a parade, but also made accessible for people who are sensitive to loud sounds.
Last year, a Marple Newtown resident said his grandson wanted to go to the town’s Independence Day parade, but he couldn’t because of all the loud sirens and sounds. After some discussion, the parade committee voted unanimously to create a space along the parade route that would be sensory inclusive.
The families that lined the quiet zone varied. Some purposely sat in the section, while others have been sitting in the same spot along the parade route for years. Parents with young families like the O’Brien and Welsh families, which both have an almost two-year-old and a newborn, came specifically to the Marple Newtown parade because of the advertised quiet zone.
“We have earmuffs for them just in case, but it’s nice to not have to use them and still enjoy the parade,” Mallory Welsh said.
Others like the Barbo and Chester families have been coming to the parade for 8 years and have always set up camp in this spot along the route. They were willing to give the quiet zone a chance.
“It’s too quiet,” Joe Barbo said. “We miss the music. The lack of sirens is fine. But it’s hard to get into the parade without the music.”
The lack of band music in the quiet zone seemed to be the main complaint, but overall no one was too bothered by the quietness. The lack of loud sirens, on the other hand, was said to be a welcomed benefit of sitting there.