Parade Date: Saturday, December 12, 2020 at 5:30 PM
2020 Parade Theme: A Heroes' Christmas.
Grand Marshal: TBD
Ocala, FLA (November 19, 2020) — After careful consultation with public officials, some past participants, sponsors, and health professionals, the all-volunteer committee, organized as The Friends of the Christmas Parade, Inc., regretfully announce the cancellation of the 65thAnnual Ocala/Marion County Christmas Parade scheduled for December 12, 2020.
Factors considered include an increased and overwhelming concern about the COVID-19 virus where we are seeing a continuing increase in the local positivity rate since November 1 and the deleterious recent decision by the Marion County School Board to restrict students and school groups participation in the 2020 parade. These items, in addition to the increased expenses holding an event this year would entail, the committee agreed that hosting the parade is not the safest nor most prudent way to proceed during such an unprecedented year.
The event traditionally draws large crowds of over 50,000 people lining Silver Springs Boulevard and over 6,000 participants from Marion County Public Schools, community organizations, and local businesses. Our volunteer committee is very disappointed that we are unable to hold this event as our goal each year is to create a diverse, community-wide event where people of all ages and socio-economic sectors of the community can come together in the spirit of good will and community.
We make this decision after hours of discussion and with the understanding that there will be some that may not understand or support the decision to cancel. The public, participants, law enforcement, and volunteers are always at the forefront of our planning and this decision was extremely hard to make, but public safety and responsible use of taxpayer resources must be a priority.
Please know that our organization remains committed to the annual Christmas parade and will begin planning for the 2021 parade next spring. We look forward to seeing the smiles again as well as the friendly competition it fosters with the community float participants and bands.
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We will be holding a Mandatory Packet Pickup Meeting on ____ in the Community Room of the Ocala Police Department. All participants MUST send a representative to this meeting to pick up your vehicle passes and information packets for line-up.
Friends of the Christmas Parade Inc. is working with local officials to develop protocols for all participants of the Ocala Christmas Parade in order to provide the safest environment possible. Complete plan details will be included in packets during the mandatory packet pickup sessions.
Applications are due by October 31, 2020. Acceptance notifications will go out November 18, with packet pickup meetings between November 19 to 25. The delay in the notification and meetings is due to the final review and permitting of the event by the City of Ocala in consideration of Coronavirus (COVID-19).
Friends of the Christmas Parade, Inc. is an all-volunteer organization. Our committee will make every effort to quickly respond to your questions, but ask for your patience in responding to your emails regarding applications, mandatory packet pickup, and bleacher seating.