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Belpre cancels reverse Christmas parade

Parkersburg, Vienna, Ripley events still on

Belpre became the latest Mid-Ohio Valley community to cancel its annual Christmas parade Thursday, but some plan to continue with their events, adapted to reflect the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic. (File Photo)

PARKERSBURG — Belpre became the latest Mid-Ohio Valley community to cancel its annual Christmas parade Thursday, but some plan to continue with their events, adapted to reflect the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Main Street Marietta and the City of Williamstown made the calls earlier, while Belpre Holiday Lights parade organizers announced their decision Thursday.

The 2020 edition, slated for Nov. 28, was to be a reverse parade, with displays stationary and safely distanced while spectators moved along the route in vehicles. COVID-19 restrictions on gatherings and the organizers’ concerns for the safety of all participants made the difficult decision necessary, Belpre Lions Club President Bobette Grimm said.

The club partnered with the Belpre Holiday Lights Committee, GFWC Belpre Woman’s Club, Belpre Area Chamber of Commerce and City of Belpre in the attempt to maintain the parade tradition while offering a safe alternative to the usual parade structure. According to Grimm, organizers plan to bring the parade to the community in its traditional form in 2021 if health conditions allow at that time.

Parades in Ohio are classified as restricted events in the COVID-19 response to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Parkersburg is planning its own reverse parade from 2-3:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5, with displays stationary and safely distanced while spectators moved along the route in vehicles. (File Photo)

Parkersburg is planning its own reverse parade from 2-3:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5. Floats will line both sides of Market Street from 19th to Third streets. Participants must wear masks when checking in and any time they are not with their group.

“People will be distanced more than 6 feet across the roads, and the displays will be 6 feet apart,” said Lori Ullman, who coordinates the parade with John Chalfant.

“I think it’s really important to give people, during these challenging times, something to look forward to,” she said. “We want to be sure that people have the opportunity to create and give back and be part of the community this Christmas.”

Candy will not be thrown, but Santa Claus will give out bags of candy at the end of the route.

Awards will still be bestowed on participants in multiple categories.

The parade will once again serve as a food drive for local efforts to combat hunger, with an entry fee of at least 15 nonperishable food items. Applications can be downloaded from the city’s website, parkersburgcity.com.

Though the modified parade will be going on, Downtown PKB’s annual Winterfest event, which usually features fireworks, children’s activities and the Parkersburg city tree lighting, has been canceled.

Vienna and Ripley are going ahead with their Christmas parades.

Although the city decided to cancel its tree lighting, Vienna’s Holly Days parade, with the theme “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” is slated to travel along Grand Central Avenue from 46th to 23rd streets on Saturday, Dec. 5.

The parade starts at 11 a.m., with lineup starting at 10 a.m. Applications can be picked up at the city building or downloaded from the city’s website, vienna-wv.com. They can be returned by mail to City of Vienna, Attn: Linda Kern, 609 29th St., Vienna, WV 26105; or scanned and emailed to lindakern@vienna-wv.com by Nov. 24. Entry fee is at least a case of nonperishable food to donate to the Good Samaritan Center at Wayside United Methodist Church.

Kern, the city’s event planner, said she checked with “everybody and their brother at the state level and the local level” to determine how to conduct the parade safely.

The application says participants “assume personal responsibility” for complying with social-distancing guidelines, West Virginia’s mask mandate, hand sanitizing and other safety protocols. It recommends individually wrapped candy be placed in a snack-sized bag. Kern said she plans to contact and discuss those guidelines with every group who indicates they want to bring a large trailer, to make sure they don’t have too many people grouped closely together.

Ripley is planning its Christmas parade for 6 p.m. Dec. 5, Mayor Carolyn Rader said. Participants will start lining up at 5:30 p.m. at Ripley High School.

The procession will travel from the high school to the Starcher Mansion, where there will be “a Christmas village and different activities for the children to do” while remaining socially distanced, she said. Children will pick out pre-wrapped gifts for family members.

Rader said they are working to make the activities as safe as possible while still keeping the spirit of Christmas.

“We have a wonderful solution for Santa,” she said. “Santa will be in a snow globe … waving and smiling and winking.”

Evan Bevins can be reached at ebevins@newsandsentinel.com.

Jess Mancini can be reached at jmancini@newsandsentinel.com.

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