Cleburne's Lighted Christmas Parade has been canceled in response to the recent increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.
Officials said the decision to cancel the event was necessary to prevent additional spread of the virus and support health care providers
Other Whistle Stop Christmas events are still scheduled for the evening of Friday, Dec. 4, officials said.
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"Working closely with event sponsors, the City and our vendors we are still able to provide holiday activities to Cleburne residents and visitors," Chamber President Tara Janszen said. "We have numerous health and safety protocols in place such as frequent sanitizing of high touch areas, line markers for social distancing, and a plexiglass picture frame between Santa and his visitors."
According to officials, socially-distanced activities where protocols can be implemented to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, such as food and gift vendors, pictures with Santa and Mrs. Claus, and train rides, are planned at Hulen Park on Friday evening beginning at 6 p.m.
"Whistle Stop has always been about bringing families and friends together to celebrate Christmas," Scott Lail, Cleburne Fire Chief, said. "Unfortunately, lining the streets with parade observers would be difficult to manage and goes against our combined efforts to slow the spread, reduce hospitalizations, and support an already overextended health care system. We certainly understand everyone's desire for some normalcy and the Chamber, City staff, and Mayor have been working hard to provide that through the parade and other activities. Unfortunately, circumstances have now reached a point where the ability to provide critical health care has been breached and conducting an activity, such as the parade, that could further lead to mass spread of the virus and hospitalization of residents would be irresponsible."
Holiday lights will be on at Hulen Park every evening through Dec. 31, and the Children's Train will be available for rides from Dec. 4 through Dec. 19 on Fridays and Saturdays from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
"While it is certainly not the normal Christmas we all long for, please know that our Chamber and City staff, along with numerous volunteers, organizations and vendors have worked tirelessly to do their very best to bring some holiday cheer to our community," Mayor Scott Cain said.