| Palm Beach Post
WELLINGTON — For the first time in 37 years, there will be no holiday parade in Wellington.
The Central Palm Beach County Chamber of Commerce, which organizes the parade, decided to postpone it this year because of concerns about the novel coronavirus pandemic, chamber CEO Mary Lou Bedford confirmed Friday.
More: Meet the man behind Wellington’s annual holiday parade
It’s the latest annual celebration to be canceled or postponed as officials work to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
“The safety of the participants and the spectators is of the utmost importance,” she said.
The parade draws thousands of people, who line Forest Hill Boulevard between the original Wellington Mall and Village Hall. Dozens of businesses and organizations take part, including local governments and schools.
More: Wellington to have Creepy Crawl — a Halloween event fit for a pandemic
With so many people gathered along the parade route, it would be difficult to enforce public health guidelines, including facial coverings and social distancing.
“There’s just no way to control a crowd like that,” Bedford said.
The chamber started discussing postponing the parade in June, she said, adding that the chamber had committed to having all of its events virtually through the end of the year.
Photos: Wellington Holiday Parade 2019
Bedford is optimistic the parade will return next year. The parade has become a tradition for families, with those who were children marching in the parade 20 years ago now watching their own children march in the parade, she said.
“We just love this event,” she said.
The parade began in 1983. It was run by the Palms West Chamber of Commerce — now the Central Palm Beach County Chamber — and was the brainchild of Dennis Witkowski, one of the chamber’s founding members.
Photos: 35th annual Wellington Holiday Parade
The two-mile parade route has remained the same, and enthusiasm for the event has only grown. The parade now includes groups from The Acreage, Loxahatchee Groves, Wellington, Greenacres, Royal Palm Beach, suburban Lake Worth and unincorporated Boynton Beach.
Many local events have fallen to COVID-19, as officials grapple with new safety measures to slow the spread of the virus. While some events have been called off altogether, others have been adapted or reimagined.
One weekly event that has seemingly survived the pandemic is the green market, with cities throughout Palm Beach County — including Wellington and Royal Palm Beach — announcing they would continue their markets with new protocols in place.
And while Wellington has decided not to have its annual Fall Festival, it announced a drive-thru haunted house event for Oct. 17, with vehicles winding through Village Park for the Creepy Crawl.