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‘It’s a big loss’: COVID-19 prompts cancellation of 2020 Bend Christmas Parade

(Update: Adding video, comments from parade chairman, business)

BEND, Ore (KTVZ) -- Whenever Santa makes a visit to Bend, he needs to stop at Ernie Gilpin's house first.

"I keep the sleigh here at the house,” Gilpin told NewsChannel 21 on Tuesday. “And I have all the banners here for the parade and the whole deal."

The sleigh is the centerpiece of Bend's annual Christmas Parade, which runs all through downtown Bend every year, along with the reindeer that power it.

Of course, it's not actually reindeer that power Santa's sleigh. It’s a trailer on which the sleigh and the reindeer ride upon.

But this year, it's going to be staying put.

That's because the Bend Christmas Parade has been canceled this year.

Gilpin is the chairman of the parade, and said Tuesday he made really the only choice he had.

"We waited 'til the last minute, when actually we thought things would clear up by now when we thought about this three months ago," Gilpin said.

The parade, with all of its floats, performances and crowds, presented some obvious logistical concerns.

"How do you social distance 5,000 viewers, plus all of the people on the parade route -- 35, 40 maybe 50 people, kids on one float?" Gilpin said.

But the cancellation spells trouble for more than the viewers and the floats.

Stewart Fritchman, owner of the coffee shop Bellatazza, said, "It's a big loss, at a time we are already experiencing losses within the community."

Bellatazza sits along the traditional parade route. Not only will he miss revenue from the event, he'll miss the good vibes from his customers.

"Everybody is saying, 'Happy holidays,'” Fritchman said. “'Merry Christmas,' 'Happy Kwanza.' All of the things that go along with that season are happening right there."

But Gilpin has a friend who may be able to help out.

"Santa said he was going to do the best he can,” he said. “He makes individual visits to people and things, so hopefully he'll have a good year for everybody."

The last time the parade was canceled was in 2013, due to sub-zero temperatures.

Article Topic Follows: Bend

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Jack Hirsh

Jack Hirsh is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Jack here.


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