Island Of Lights Parade, Other Holiday Events Canceled Due To COVID-19

Island Of Lights Parade, Other Holiday Events Canceled Due To COVID-19

Island Of Lights Parade, Other Holiday Events Canceled Due To COVID-19 Featured

By / Local News / Wednesday, 14 October 2020 17:51

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

CAROLINA BEACH - The 2020 Island of Lights Christmas Parade has been canceled due to COVID-19. Other events organized by IOL that have canceled include the October Christmas Card and Ornament signing, Tour of Homes, the Holiday Flotilla in the Town's Yatch Basin and the New Year’s Eve Celebration at Kure Beach.

During the Council's October 13th, meeting, Councilman Steve Shuttleworth said the IOL announced the cancellation of holiday events and he has seen comments on social media from citizens that want to create their own Christmas Parade. He explained, "The problem with that I see is, anytime you are marching down Lake Park Blvd. in volumes of people, it involves our first responders and needs coordination."

He explained, "This has been a really interesting six months. I started off this six month period suggesting that we close the bridge and not the beach. We ended up closing the beach. I ended up getting nose to nose with the residents and later we had people demanding to open up North Carolina and marching on Town Hall. That turned out to be interesting. We've had a lot of people taking different approaches to the whole thing."

He explained, "If you don't want to be in the parade, don't be in the parade. If you don't want to watch the parade, don't come. I think the most compelling thing I heard most recently from the Mayor Steve I'm not oppose to the parade, my problem is everybody in the region will show up."

Shuttleworth explained, "There are a lot of people in the community that feel strongly about having the Christmas Parade. And several people ask me what is Council going to do about it. I said I don't know I'll bring it up. I'm not sure we are going to do anything about it."

He explained, "Just suggesting to you, it's a very large event. And a lot of our business owners appreciate having people down here. At this particular point in this whole pandemic... there is some personal responsibility that people can either show up, or not show up, participate or not participate."

He said Town employees input would be valuable because they would have to deal with such gatherings which are currently limited to 50 people or less.

Shuttleworth and Mayor Leanne Pierce both pointed out that holding such an event while other surrounding Town's have canceled their events could attract larger crowds.

Councilman Lynn Barbee answered the question of who makes the decision on whether the IOL parade is canceled. He said, "It's their parade. The Town has been doing most of the work, but as of right now, it's their parade."

Mayor Pierce said, "As perplexing as it is, I've been in Carolina Beach for 30 years and I think the parade has gone on for almost that time... Individuals do have the choice to go to restaurants or bars or grocery stores, but when the Town puts on an event I think it makes it a little different. It's us inviting people to the Town and we have a higher responsibility because we are protecting all groups of people in my mind. I don't want to cancel the parade either but I'm just not sure that it makes sense for the Town to get involved in asking for a mass gathering which is why we've canceled things all year. If we could have some alternative, I would like that. We can social distance on those floats, that's not a problem, but we would not be able to control the crowds I don't think."

Councilman Barbee explained, "My opinion is we follow the same strategy we've use for everything else. We didn't have fireworks because no one else was having fireworks and we would have been over-runned. We closed the beach because we were the only open at one time and we were over runned. I would say hold the course and use the same strategy that's work to protect our citizens up to this point. No, I don't like that answer at all, but I think it's the right thing to do even thought it's the difficult thing to do."

Town Manager Bruce Oakley said the Town Attorney stated the Governor's current order prohibits parades and said that if people were aware of a community parade traveling through neighborhoods safely, "Something like that could be huge."

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