In what has been nothing less than a complete “out of the box year,” why not finish up with a parade that measures up.
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Kick off your Holiday celebrations with us at our 67th annual Christmas Parade…..it’s a night you do not want to miss! The 2020 Christmas Parade will take on a new look…..welcome to the first Parade in Place Downtown Christmas Parade,” Monroe Downtown wrote on its event page.
So, what does a Parade in Place mean? It means the parade will be stationary and the people will “parade” past.
Why, you may ask. In the days of COVID-19, particularly in what appears to be a rise in numbers nationwide, it is what the City of Monroe has come up with to try and limit the risk while still allowing its citizens to get to experience as much as they can of the traditional community Christmas Spirit.
“Many cities all over Georgia have been discussing how to still host holiday traditions downtown, and this is an idea we came up with as we heard of creative ideas from our fellow downtown managers. This format gives attendees to the parade more ability to move at their own pace throughout downtown rather than standing close together in one location for 2+ hours,” said Sadie Krawczyk, economic development director for the City of Monroe. “We made this decision based on CDC guidelines which state that outdoor events that allow for social distancing are less risky than events that may create a longer amount of potential exposure time – a stationary event without movement and at maximum capacity in downtown would be considered much more of a risk for spreading COVID-19 than one where you are continually moving with the ability to stay further away from others not in your household.”
Krawczyk said attendees can walk up and down the street at will. There will be a visual barrier to keep people a reasonable distance from the floats that will be in the middle of the road. Performing entries will do their performances on a loop, “just as if they were in the moving parade, so hopefully people will move on and come back later if they feel uncomfortable with the crowd size at a certain time.”
Monroe Mayor John Howard said he understands that it may be difficult for people who are elderly or with certain health conditions to move about, but since those are also likely the people most at risk from the coronavirus it would probably not be a good idea for them to attend anyway. He said the parade would be videotaped to be shown on the local television channel, just that too would have to be reversed.
“So last year we reversed the route, this year we’re making the parade static,” Howards said, adding that also instead of the videographer standing in one place to videotape the event as usual, the videographer would likely move up the parade route and video each “float” in place.
Krawczyk said she realized that there would be people who would question the plan, but in this most unusual year, they were trying their best to do adapt to the situation.
“We’re doing the best we can to balance the many differing public sentiments and our responsibility to protect and serve citizens. It’s really difficult, and I have not made any decision this year without much thought, prayer, and counsel from others,” she said. “We know for sure that last year between the streets of Highland and Washington along Broad Street, there were 15,000 smart phones present on parade day. We have consumer traffic reports showing these unbelievable numbers, and those don’t account for children without phones nor does it include all of our downtown area. Keep in mind Monroe’s total population is 13,800ish. The Christmas parade is, by far, the largest community event we host, and that is why we have tried to come up with this compromise that will allow us to still have something special on the first Thursday of December…even in 2020.”
Krawczyk said that while they do not have the ability to mandate or enforce mask wearing, it is “encouraged and recommended as a way to protect yourself and others” as per the guidelines given by the CDC.
So for the 67th Annual Christmas Parade in Monroe, while parade participants line the usual parade route, spectators will stroll the parade route to see the sights and sounds of Christmas. The event begins at 6:30 and ends at 8:00 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 3 in this most unusual year.
“As with all things 2020, this is ‘Christmas Outside of the Box'” Monroe DDA noted.
Download Parade Application HERE. Space will be limited to the first 50. Friday, Nov. 20 is the last day to register.