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Everybody loves a parade: Census rolling into Cooleemee on Monday

The 2020 Census is each resident’s opportunity to make a decade of a difference in the community.

In Cooleemee, 36.5 percent of residents have participated in the US Census, while the average response rate in North Carolina is 58.8 percent.  In an effort to increase their town’s rate, the Cooleemee Volunteer Fire Department was able to apply for the “2020 Get-Out-The Count” grant.

The Census Caravan is scheduled for Monday, Aug. 24 beginning at 6 p.m. Some 1,200 bags will be distributed to residents in the town. A caravan of fire trucks, police cars, emergency service vehicles, along with a few ATVs or golf carts will assemble in the parking lot of the elementary school and proceed up and down every street in Cooleemee. The rain date for the event is scheduled for Aug. 31.

The NC County Coalition invited organizations committed to ensuring a fair and accurate Census to apply for these grants. Most residents get their Census packets in the mail, but because Cooleemee residents receive mail by post office box only, Census workers must leave packets at every house. Although there were flyers mailed and Census signs and banners placed around the town, there is still a need to raise awareness about how important it is to be counted.

“After learning about the Get-Out-The-Count RFP, we felt this was a great opportunity to rally the volunteers in the community to come together for this important event. The Cooleemee Volunteer Fire Department agreed to take the lead and we proposed a Census Caravan in Cooleemee Event,” said Parris Whitley, Complete Count committee member.  “Everyone loves a parade and with the pandemic, Cooleemee had to cancel the Independence Day Celebration that includes the Annual Lawnmower Parade.  We think a caravan through the town would bring some excitement.”

It wasn’t long after the proposal was submitted that the county was notified that the Grant Selection Committee for NC Count’s Coalition’s GOTC Community Outreach Program approved a grant to the Cooleemee Volunteer Fire Department.

At the Census Caravan event, residents will be able to watch from their porches and receive a goody-bag filled with gifts and information about the Census and how to participate via phone and internet. Volunteers will be in masks and gloves, following social distancing guidelines.

“The census is important in our community because important decisions and allocations of resources will be determined based on the information they obtain,” said Cooleemee Fire Chief Doug Arledge. “I’m looking forward to the Census Caravan so that I can provide information about the importance of the census to our community.”