By TONYA L. POUTRY, Islander Editor
NORTH HERO – It is quite disappointing to announce the cancellation of the 4th annual Champlain Islands Christmas Parade on Dec. 5th.
Our wish for a community celebration needs to be deferred due to the latest sharp uptick in positive tests for COVID-19 for safety reasons.
The Christmas Parade committee initially decided in late September to go forward with the parade after many considerations of safety for the community and participants of the parade and following the statistics provided by the State, showing a downward slide of the rate of infection.
By parking the parade floats at Knight Point State Park -- instead of the traditional moving event -- and allowing people to view the lights from their slow-moving vehicles, the committee believed this would ensure the safety of attendees and participants.
Now, just weeks later, we are faced with a surge of cases that cannot be ignored and the sad reality that COVID will not permit the parade to go on.
The parade committee reached out to the Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD) for guidance as to the best way to proceed given the rising case numbers and where we stand today. The ACCD permits drive thru events, however the guidelines for gatherings does not permit members of multi-households to gather. There is not a way to enforce adherence to these guidelines from the standpoint of participants or attendees of the parade.
There is speculation that following the Thanksgiving holiday and school break for students, the numbers Vermont is currently seeing will continue in an upward tread with a forecasted 153% increase in cases in the next six weeks Commissioner of Financial Regulation Mike Pieciak said on Tuesday.
At his bi-weekly press conference Tuesday, Gov. Phil Scott said “from Oct. 1 to the time of Friday’s announcement, 71% of outbreaks were linked to social events.”
Scott also said, “In the environment we are in, we’ve got to prioritize need over want.”
“The number of people in hospitals is growing across the country, because some care more about what they want to do over rather than what they need to do to help protect others – keep kids in school, keep people working…”
Grand Isle county has the second lowest number of COVID infections in the state. The parade committee would like that trend to continue by prioritizing need over want.
“Our hope was to bring some much-needed joy to the community for the holidays.” Jeff Parizo of the Parade Committee said.
“It was the hope of the committee that we could make this event happen in a safe and enjoyable way without increasing the risk of a COVID spread within our community. With guidance from the State, we cannot guarantee the guidelines set forth will be adhered to,” Parizo said.
Some ideas that we have discussed is to start planning now for a fantastic event next year – perhaps the same concept of a parked parade at Knight Point State Park with food vendors, music, activities, and more.
For this year, wouldn’t it be great to decorate a little brighter? Perhaps, still create a float and park it in front of your home or business.
The Grand Isle Sheriff’s Department plans to have their boat glowing with lights in front of their office in Grand Isle soon after the Thanksgiving holiday.
If you are decorating your home or creating a float – send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to be included in our Holiday Light Tour listing to be published beginning in the Dec. 2 issue of The Islander and feel free to email a photo of your decoration to the above email address to be share in the newspaper and online.