The 40th edition of Lakeland’s Christmas Parade, an annual tradition that lines downtown streets with an estimated 30,000 viewers, has been cancelled because of coronavirus concerns, the city of Lakeland announced today.

The decision was made jointly by The Junior League of Greater Lakeland, which organizes the parade, and the city, which provides substantial support. “The organizing committee has obvious concerns regarding the pandemic and the unknowns of what impacts the virus may have going forward,” city of Lakeland spokesman Kevin Cook said in a news release issued this afternoon.

Applications to participate in a 2020 parade are way down from previous years, city Parks and Recreation Director Bob Donahay said. “On most years we have over 100 applications going into September, and right now we have 10 applicants and no marching bands,”  he said. “It is important that we notify the public and those few parade participants that completed applications of the decision to cancel the event before they start spending significant funds on floats, decorations and other parade accommodations.”

City Manager Tony Delgado added,  “It is extremely difficult to plan for a large-scale event during a global health crisis. Our hope is this all goes away and we can get back to the life we all enjoyed before the coronavirus.”

Earlier this year, Lakeland’s annual Independence Day fireworks at Lake Mirror were cancelled, also because of coronavirus concerns. Like the Christmas parade, the fireworks display often squeezed large crowds into tight areas.

In recent years, hundreds of people claimed early viewing spots along the Christmas Parade route by placing folding chairs several rows deep on downtown sidewalks.

Today’s announcement drew reactions from understanding to disappointment to disgust immediately after it was posted on Facebook.

To relive the 2019 Christmas Parade, check this video:

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Barry Friedman founded in 2015 as the culmination of a career in print and digital journalism. Since 1982, he has used the tools of reporting, editing and content curation to help people in Lakeland understand their community better.

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  1. Rather than asking the community at large if this is OK with them,these psuedo science based idiotic self Righteousness politicians,have taken the big brother approach to dealing with these decisions,very very sad.I wish residents wake up soon before its too late,to take back our town from these types of so called self proclaimed leaders.

  2. I, personally think it is too early in the year to cancel this event because we certainly don’t know what the virus will be like in Dec. If they had given just another month to wait for their decision they would still have had enough time to get sponsors and whatever else they had to get done. FYI my family promotes huge drag racing events three times a year so we do know what it is like to have to prepare and get everyone onboard and I still think that they could have waited until the end of September.

  3. So stupid. It’s a political agenda and they fell for it without even asking the majority.

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