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Arts & Culture

River Walk Holiday Parade Canceled To Prevent COVID-19 From Spreading Among Crowds

COVID-19's shadow over the 2020 holiday season grew longer and darker this week. The city and the San Antonio River Walk Association announced the cancellation of this year's Ford River Holiday Parade, an event that brings tens of thousands of people downtown.

"The Ford Holiday River Parade is always held the day after Thanksgiving, and we turn on all of the holiday lights," explained Maggie Thompson, executive director of the River Walk Association.

"We have about a 25 to 28-boat river parade that celebrates the beginning of the season on the beautiful River Walk," she added. "We have families who came as children and now are grandparents. And they bring their children. We typically sell out. It's a ticketed event. It's beautiful, and it's well-loved by so many people."

The event is a holiday tradition that goes back several decades, and Thompson said this year would've marked the event's 40th anniversary.

But current COVID-19 restrictions can't allow such a crowded event to take place, Thompson explained, citing concerns over the risk of widespread infection. This was the first time it was ever canceled. Virtual activities will take place instead. More information was available here.

San Antonio isn't unique to such event cancellations. "I would say almost all the parades around the country are being canceled, all the big parades," Thompson said.

She encouraged residents and visitors to nevertheless make the trip downtown to safely tour the River Walk during the holiday season. She said they will be able to enjoy the iconic holiday lights over the water, which will be activated around the second week in November — earlier than usual, and perhaps a symbolic victory against the pandemic's shadow.