As a way to follow state and federal guidelines on social distancing, yet still celebrate the Christmas holiday in a festive manner, the Woodstock City Council discussed a potential modification to its annual Christmas parade during a recent work session.
With the Christmas Jubilee having grown in size and popularity, even surpassing the city’s July 4 celebration, Woodstock Parks and Recreation Special Events Coordinator Marybeth Stockdale said surveys were sent out to participants in previous parades to gauge their interest in an alternative form of parade, with 41 of the 49 responses received stating they were indeed interested in participating, albeit in a different format.
“Instead of our traditional parade going down Main Street, we are planning a Christmas Jubilee reverse drive-through parade of lights,” Stockdale said. “The reverse parade is one where the floats are stationary and the spectators drive through, looking at the floats, and then exit.”
When looking at a potential site for this, Stockdale said the best possible option would be the combined parking lots for River Ridge High School and Mill Creek Middle School. Due to the large size of the lot there, city staff felt this would allow for traffic to flow smoothly and continuously without any areas where vehicles would have to cross over each other’s paths. Stockdale said the school district has given its permission for the event to be held there should the city decide to approve this form of parade.
In order to keep traffic moving, participants on the floats would not be allowed to throw or hand out candy, although city staff, dressed as Santa’s elves, would be at the end of the parade to give out a bag of any candy and promotional materials those on the floats would normally have been giving out, according to Stockdale. At the same time, in order to keep traffic moving, Santa himself would be standing at a distance from the cars passing by, waving as the vehicles drive along. All candy would be quarantined prior to the event, first by parade participants and then by city staff.
“We’re hoping that, by offering this type of parade, people will still be able to leave with holiday spirit and a little bag of treats,” Stockdale said. “The parade participants were excited. The ones who responded back, they were saying, ‘better than nothing,’ and they said they could make it work. Some of them were even more excited because they could have a generator and they could take their float and expand off of the trailer, so it would be more of a display as opposed to a float.”
Some of the council members said they thought this was a great idea, as it would still allow the city to have a celebration resembling the traditional parade. They felt this was a creative solution to the matter and commended Stockdale and her staff for the hard work they had put into coming up with this possibility.
“I think it’s good to have something, and I think it’s good to do it wherever it works,” Councilman Colin Ake said.
“I just never thought I’d hear the term, ‘quarantined candy,’” Mayor Donnie Henriques added.