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Southern Rowan Christmas Parade to go on with COVID-19 safety measures in place

CHINA GROVE — The Southern Rowan Christmas parade, hosted by China Grove and Landis, will still go on as scheduled on Nov. 24 year, albeit with several changes.

“We have had a lot of contact with the community and so far it’s been overwhelming support that we go ahead with the parade,” said Ken Deal, China Grove’s town manager.

Deal said that there was prolonged discussion about whether to even have the parade due to health concerns regarding COVID-19, but organizers decided to host an altered version.

“We talked about it extensively when everything was taking place with COVID,” Deal said. “With the education everyone has, we felt like they could watch the parade and social distance, whatever they need to do to stay back and away and that it would be fine.”

Parade attendees will be expected to follow social distancing protocols, candy will not be handed out and the lineup will be sparse compared to previous years. Instead of roughly 100 parade participants, Deal said that about 40 entrants have signed up so far. A major reason for the smaller lineup is the inability of local high schools to participate.

“Schools are still in question; they probably won’t be able to do anything. We might not have those bands,” Deal said.

In addition to a smaller lineup, Deal said that the parade route may be extended this year. Typically, the parade kicks off in Landis and pauses to “regroup” before reaching China Grove. This year, the parade may run continuously through the two towns.

“We haven’t made a firm decision, but it’s possible if we don’t have a lot of marching bands or people walking, we may continue on to China Grove from Landis and not stop anywhere,” Deal said. “That will give people a bigger distance to spread out and watch the parade from.”

Even though the 2020 parade will be unlike any other, Deal said that Santa Claus will once again be in attendance to usher in the Christmas season. Deal expects the event to give people joy at the end of a year that has been difficult for many.

Deal said he is confident that the parade will go on as planned, but that organizers will monitor the COVID-19 outlook constantly and are prepared to postpone or cancel the event if needed.

“We don’t foresee us canceling, but you never know what’s going to happen in the world today,” Deal said. “If we feel like it just escalates out of control, we might have to say ‘Look, we don’t want to spread it.’ That might lead to us delaying it or not having it.”

Along with the Southern Rowan Christmas Parade, China Grove plans on hosting its popular Christmas in the Grove celebration in December. 

“It’s still in the planning process,” Deal said. “We’re trying to evaluate and determine the safety issue, how we can do it.”

The Southern Rowan Christmas Parade will start in Landis at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 24. More information about the parade can be found at chinagrovenc.com.

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