Mexico’s Christmas parade canceled, Health Department cautions against gatherings

Mexico’s Christmas parade canceled, Health Department cautions against gatherings
By: 
Dave Faries
Editor

Mexico Area Chamber of Commerce director Dana Keller can only look at what might have been – floats, bands, crowds, Christmas cheer. And with a theme of An All-American Christmas for the parade, she says, “we were trying to include a lot of veterans.”

On Tuesday, however, the Chamber issued a notice that the annual holiday tradition in downtown Mexico had been canceled.

The decision was made after Chamber leadership met with the Audrain County Health Department. Both organizations were concerned over the recent increase in local COVID-19 cases. But timing was also part of the discussion – the parade was set for Dec. 5, a week after the Thanksgiving holiday, when public health officials expected the risk of spreading the virus would be elevated.

“It’s heartbreaking,” Keller said.

The Chamber board realized that a decision either way would cause a stir, especially with a consensus that there is less of a chance of transmission at outdoor events. However, participants would be in close proximity on floats for more than an hour and those who come to view the parade stand shoulder to shoulder for extended periods.

In the end, board members took a safety first approach.

“We are an organization that supports both business and community,” Keller said. “We don’t want to increase the risk to either.”

In a typical year some 30 floats are entered in the parade. This year, she pointed out, groups have been more hesitant. The Chamber received only a fraction of the usual number of applications.

Meanwhile, as of Tuesday afternoon, the Light Up Laddonia for Christmas parade and community celebration was still on. Set for Dec. 5, the lighted parade through Laddonia also features readings, singing and a visit by Santa Claus.

Mexico’s Magic Tree lighting ceremony is also a go. The event takes place on Nov. 25 at 6pm and will remain lit during the evening through December.

Officials at the health department warn against such gatherings, citing Centers for Disease Control guidelines. According to the CDC, crowds in close proximity – even outdoors – create a high risk of spreading the coronavirus, as well as the flu.

“Hundreds of holiday events and parades across Missouri are being canceled due to the spike in COVID-19 cases,” noted ACHD Administrator and CEO Craig Brace. “The safest intervention during this critical time is to cancel or postpone the event.”

The Chamber held a ribbon cutting for the grand opening of Tasha D. Love Certified Public Accountant in Mexico on Wednesday morning.

“Those are things with fewer people and easily spaced,” Keller observed.

Most people at the small gathering were wearing masks. Brace asks that if events continue, organizers follow social distancing protocols and have attendees and participants mask up.

“ACHD is committed to prevent, promote and protect the health and well being of the residents of Audrain County,” he said.

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