Bellevue Fourth of July Parade Marches on One Year After Tragedy
By Jillian Petrus, Reporter
BELLEVUE, Iowa - On July 3, 2010, thousands lined the streets for Bellevue's Heritage Day Parade. Suddenly, two horses pulling a buggy spooked and charged into the crowd, killing a woman on the carriage. 25 others were hurt, many of them kids watching the parade.
Despite the tragedy, the City of Bellevue decided to go forward with the Heritage Day Parade this year.
"The feeling today is one of optimism," said Bellevue Mayor, Virgil Murray.
This year's Heritage Day Parade was about making changes instead of losing a tradition.
"I think a lot of people who are here remember the tragedy, but we also remember the things we learned from that tragedy," Murray said just before parade festivities got underway.
Bellevue and surrounding communities raised 270,000 dollars to support people injured when two horses broke free from a buggy at last year's parade. That money also went toward adding new safety measures this year.
"Safety staff got together this morning to review safety protocols," said Dave North, Spokesperson for the Heritage Day Committee. "I think the only thing that's going to happen today is 10,000 people having a great time."
It seemed last year's incident didn't scare parade-goers away. Families still lined the sidewalks and horses still pulled carriages in the parade despite last year's incident.
The extra money allowed for more event staff to walk and ride the parade route as well. Added volunteer ambulance, paramedics and firefighters also rode through the parade, a group for every two blocks of the route.
"We're going to add anything we learned to this year's event," said the Mayor, "it's going to be a good event."
The added security and medical staff seemed to pay off as the Fourth of July celebration rolled through town with little mention of last year's chaos, in hopes of soon putting the tragedy behind them.
There are still two lawsuits pending from injuries two little girls received during last year's incident. One of those lawsuits names The City of Bellevue. The other only names the driver of the carriage, Mardell Steines.
Steines' wife, Janet Steines, was killed when the carriage turned over last year.