TEMPE, AZ — The holidays will look a little different this year with the coronavirus pandemic making travel and large gatherings more difficult. The city of Tempe is having to reinvent its annual events in order to comply with state and local guidelines.
The Downtown Tempe Fantasy of Lights opening parade and boat parade down Tempe Town Lake have been canceled for 2020, according to a news release. The Festival of the Arts, taking place in early December, will be modified to adhere to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.
“We are disheartened by the cancellation of these beautiful parades and realize this will impact our downtown merchants,” Kate Borders, Executive Director of the Downtown Tempe Authority, said in a statement. “But this decision was not taken lightly as we know how important these parades are to the community. We only want to produce events that demonstrate our commitment to quality safety.”
Expect the parades to return in 2021. Regardless, Mill Avenue will be lit up to bring holiday cheer to Tempe. A holiday special featuring Mayor Corey Woods and several others will be livestreamed on the Downtown Tempe social media pages, with donations to the Tempe Community Action Agency encouraged during a difficult year for so many.
The arts festival will occur on Dec. 4 – 6 with vendors selling food and handmade crafts in a socially distant fashion.
“We are thrilled to be able to continue with this fall’s festival,” Borders said. “With the support of the City, we are working around the clock to ensure this festival is as safe and enjoyable as possible.”
Food options this year will include Dole Whip, steamed buns, kettle corn and more, in addition to 300 artists. There will be no alcohol provided or any live entertainment to keep the focus on artists and small businesses. All tents at the open-air event will be placed six feet apart.
The Downtown Tempe Authority will be checking temperatures daily for all vendors and staff, and will issue wristbands for those that comply with the guidelines they’ve set forth.
The Maricopa County mask mandate will be enforced, and masks will be available for anyone in need.
This article originally appeared on the Tempe Patch