Parade off

A photo of a very colorful float from a recent version of Kilgore’s Christmas parade. City and chamber officials decided this week that, due to an uptick in COVID-19 cases, it might be better to cancel the event, than risk illness. The parade would have been in its 90th incarnation this year. Liberty City elected to cancel theirs, as well.

It was a decision made after much discussion, but Kilgore’s Christmas parade has been canceled. And Liberty City’s has, as well.

The Kilgore Area Chamber of Commerce and the city of Kilgore collaborate on the event each year — this would have been the 90th, following one of the largest ones ever in 2019.

But the risk, with COVID-19 apparently on the uptick in East Texas, was just too great, Kilgore Mayor Ronnie Spradlin said.

“We looked at all options,” Spradlin said, “doing drive by and alternatives, different things. But the logistics (of changes) and the threat of endangering participants was as much an issue as the (parade goers). We just felt like, much as we didn’t want to, it was the right thing to do.”

Thursday evening, Liberty City joined that mindset, canceling its own Christmas parade that had been scheduled for Sunday afternoon, December 6. It would have been the 33rd annual for Liberty City. In fact, they had just days earlier announced that members of the Sabine High School volleyball team, in the midst of the best run in the program’s history, would be grand marshals.

As of Friday, Mingle & Jingle, a downtown shopping and social event, is still on, Kilgore Main Street Director Meredeth Brown said. The event was established in 2007, and is planned for next Saturday, November 28, from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. Social distancing and masks will have to be a part of the event for it to happen.

As for Kilgore’s parade, Spradlin, a native son of the city, said there were over 1,000 total participants actually on floats or cars, or in the parade a year ago, not to mention literally thousands lining the Kilgore streets.

When push came to shove, after it had been in discussion all week, the final decision was announced Thursday morning, including an announcement on social media by the chamber.

“Good morning, Kilgore,” the statement began. “After careful consultation with officials, some past participants, sponsors, and health professionals, and due to our concern for the safety of our citizens, participants, and volunteers, the Kilgore Area Chamber Staff, Board of Directors, and city officials has made the difficult decision today to cancel the 90th Annual Christmas Parade “Christmas in the Oil Patch,” scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 1 at 6:30 pm.

“Following increased and overwhelming concerns about the COVID-19 virus, seeing a continuing surge in the number of positive cases and hospitalizations, it was agreed that hosting a large gathering of people is not the safest and wisest way to proceed during such an unprecedented situation,” the statement said. “Our team is very disappointed that we are unable to hold our 90th Annual Parade but we know it’s the right decision based on the information we have today. We appreciate your support and look forward to hosting the best parade in East Texas next year on Tuesday, November 30th, 2021. We will use the same theme for next year, “Christmas in the Oil Patch.”

The message concludes that Chamber President and CEO Jill McCartney would field questions at her chamber e-mail,

Kilgore is just the latest to cancel; Longview did so last month.

“We are not planning to have the Christmas parade this year because I cannot think of any way possible that we could line the streets with thousands of people standing three and four rows deep and expect them to social distance,” Mayor Andy Mack said, at the time.

According to several Tyler-area media outlets, the Tyler parade is still set for December 5.


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