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City Christmas parade canceled

GLOVERSVILLE — Yet another annual city-based event has been canceled due to the coronavirus, the Gloversville Christmas Parade. But organizers and city officials are holding out hope that the plans for the event can be salvaged.

Parade organizer Ryan Lorey of Fulton County Area News announced the cancellation of the long-running holiday parade due to the coronavirus in a post to his social media site.

“Due to COVID-19 the 2020 Gloversville Christmas Parade is canceled. The city is not able to approve the required permit. Thank you to everyone who has supported the event in the past,” stated Lorey.

While the planned date of the parade on Nov. 27 is still two months off, event permit applications through the city must be turned in to the City Clerk’s Office at least 30 days prior to the event and includes questions regarding the total number of participants expected.

The holiday parade typically draws in hundreds of area families packing the sidewalks of the parade route along downtown Main Street to take in the growing number of participants including local law enforcement agencies, emergency service personnel, community groups, local businesses and organizations and performers from area dance studios and schools marching in groups or riding together in vehicles or floats.

Normal parade attendance and participation would exceed state restrictions on large gatherings to reduce the risk of transmission of the coronavirus currently capped at a maximum of 50 people.

Mayor Vincent DeSantis today confirmed that under current restrictions the city would not be able to serve as the venue for the parade while noting that the city could receive updated guidance from Gov. Andrew Cuomo allowing the event to move forward.

“We certainly would love to have it if we can. We haven’t had any of the parades this year. It may very well be authorized, but I’m sure that there would be some protocols that would have to be put in place for it,” said DeSantis.

The parade is privately organized with logistical support from the city surrounding street closure and other public safety measures in advance of and during the event. While the event could not be authorized under current restrictions, DeSantis welcomed the submission of a permit application to potentially allow the event to move forward if protocols change or the event is able to take place under modified conditions.

“Right now, no one’s applied for a permit for the parade. We’re anticipating there is going to be an application for a permit,” said DeSantis. “Right now, there are protocols for outdoor events allowing a maximum of 50 people, that wouldn’t allow the parade as we know it.”

“We’re hoping things work out. It’s really not that the city is trying to prevent the parade, it’s been a really positive thing for us, and we’d love to have it, we just want to make sure that we’re following all of the rules,” said DeSantis while acknowledging that he had not had contact with Lorey.

Lorey today explained that he reached out to City Clerk Jennifer Mazur inquiring as to whether the city would be able to approve a permit for the parade and was informed that under current restrictions on gatherings it would not be possible.

“I would still love to have it in Gloversville, but at the moment I don’t think it looks good,” said Lorey.

Concerns from public health experts that the onset of cold weather driving people indoors will increase transmission of the virus likely means the cap on large gatherings will not be eased in the months ahead.

Already as the region has experienced bouts of cool fall weather and schools have reopened for some level of in-person attendance, the state’s positivity rate has risen slightly to 1.02 percent as reported by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Sunday. The coronavirus positivity rate in the state had remained below 1 percent for 38 consecutive days from August through Sept. 14.

Given the current restrictions, also in doubt is whether it would be possible to secure liability insurance to cover the parade as the city requires organizers to provide for all public events.

The cancellation of the Gloversville Christmas Parade follows the previously announced cancellation of other annual events locally and across the state due to the coronavirus including the Schenectady Holiday Parade and the customary Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, although that event will be modified this year to become a televised only event.

Plans for the city’s annual holiday tree lighting ceremony that typically takes place on the same evening as the parade are not yet determined, according to Mazur who serves as liaison to the Recreation Commission which organizes that event.

“My hope is that the park will still be decorated and lighted up nightly, but as far as the actual tree lighting, we will have to wait for further guidance,” said Mazur today.

Mazur noted the Recreation Commission on Friday announced the cancellation of Fall Fest due to current restrictions on large gatherings. That event typically is held in mid-October. If restrictions related to gatherings persist, Mazur said there could be a chance for a modified tree lighting.

Shortly after announcing the cancellation of the Gloversville Christmas Parade, Lorey updated the post stating that another as yet unspecified town may be willing to host the parade with discussions currently underway to potentially hold the event “with appropriate CDC guidelines in place.”

Lorey acknowledged a willingness and preference to keep the parade in Gloversville if officials within the next few weeks are able to say with certainty that the event can move forward, noting that planning of the event must get underway shortly in order to successfully pull off the parade.

“I would like to save the parade, but to wait longer than a couple of weeks we couldn’t do it,” said Lorey.

Otherwise, he plans to continue pursuing the possibility of hosting the parade in another municipality in Fulton County where an event permit would not be required and where social distancing could be more easily ensured.

“I think it’s one of the hard things, who do you ask and how long does it take for them to give them the answer,” said Lorey. “It could change, and I hope it does. If Gloversville feels they can’t approve the permit there could be an opportunity to hold it somewhere else.”

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