| Palm Beach Post
JUPITER — The coronavirus pandemic has prompted the cancellation of yet another iconic north county event, the annual JTAA Jupiter/Tequesta Holiday Parade.
The committee that plans the parade has decided to call off this year’s event, which would have been the 44th installment. Officials from the JTAA announced the decision this month, said Michael Cesarano, parade director for more than 30 years.
“Everybody was heartbroken,” Cesarano said. “But everybody understands.”
The parade is a classic yuletide gathering in north county, winding from Jupiter into Tequesta. Last year, Cesarano said he had nearly 3,000 participants.
He surveyed organizations that normally march in the parade, notably student clubs such as marching bands and scouting groups. Many told Cesarano the pandemic has complicated things so badly that they can’t participate.
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“Those (groups) don’t exist anymore this year,” Cesarano said. He added that advisories on crowd size also factored into the decision.
Although Gov. Ron DeSantis announced last week that the whole state would move into the phase 3 of reopening, Cesarano said any prospects of a salvaged parade are extremely doubtful. Wellington’s longtime holiday parade also has been called off.
“I hate saying no because it was a hard decision,” Cesarano said. “This would’ve been the 44th year and this parade has gone unblemished for 44 years.”
Jupiter Town Councilman Cameron May, a near-lifelong Jupiter resident, called it “a big loss for the town of Jupiter.” May recalled participating in the parade as a student at Jerry Thomas Elementary and later in middle school band. The event has always offered children in the Jupiter area to express their creativity, May said.
He pointed to positive indicators that the pandemic may be letting up a bit, but May said it’s tough to disagree with the parade committee’s decision.
“That event draws a lot of people and everyone’s packed in tight spaces,” May said.
Organizers have already pinpointed Dec. 12, 2021, as the parade’s return date.
Even if it went on as planned this year, the parade would have been without at least one longtime feature: Santa Claus, as portrayed by former Jupiter High drama teacher Jim Hilliker.
Hilliker died in August after he was hospitalized with the coronavirus. Cesarano said he wasn’t sure he could bear to replace Hilliker, who dressed up as Santa Claus for the parade since the 1990s, this year.
“That was another shock,” Cesarano said. “That was a heart-breaker.”