Annual Christmas parades in two Newton County cities will look much different this year amid safety concerns around the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Covington Lions Club is hosting its annual daytime Christmas parade at night and in “reverse” this year, while Porterdale is sending its parade through city neighborhoods rather than its traditional route.
Covington Lions Club’s “reverse” Christmas parade scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 5, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. also will be much smaller than previous years, organizers said.
The Covington Lions Club Christmas Parade will feature about 35 entries such as high school bands and floats. All will remain stationary and can be seen by passing vehicles along Newton Drive in Covington, said organizer and club member Missy Braden.
Organizers also will be waiving the usual parade entry fee but will accept donations to the Lions Club for its community projects, according to information from the club.
The event — hosted by the Lions Club since 2005 — was set up this year in response to safety concerns around the COVID-19 pandemic, Braden said.
The quarter-mile route will run on Newton Drive from Mill Street to Anderson Avenue. Entries will line up along the south side of Newton Drive adjacent to the YMCA and Legion Field.
Those interested in seeing it from their vehicles will be directed to drive west on Newton Drive, said Braden, who has helped organize the parade with her husband, John, since 2012.
Organizers are advising those groups building floats they will need to light them up through the use of a generator, and those passing in vehicles will only see the floats’ right sides.
All three county high school marching bands will join floats, performing groups, Jeep enthusiasts, Santa Claus and more, Missy Braden said.
John Braden said organizers typically begin work on the event in June. Discussions about the club hosting a parade and accompanying crowds this year went “back and forth” because of the potential for the disease spreading during such a popular event, Missy Braden said.
“We thought we could make it work,” she said.
The club wanted to “do something positive” and host the parade after “so many things were canceled” in Newton County because of the need for social distancing, Missy Braden said.
“We wondered, ‘How could we do it safely?,’” she said. “If people can watch it safely without people stacked up on the sidewalk, we could feel better about it.”
John Braden said this year’s parade will be much different from previous years when up to 140 entries wound their way from Legion Field to the Covington Square.
Last year’s event featured about 100 entries and included a total of 60 horses, he said.
“It looked like the cavalry coming over the hill,” he said.
Horses will not be part of this year’s event because their inclusion would “not work well” in a stationary event, Missy Braden said.
However, one entry will feature displays of other types of live animals that likely could not be done in a moving parade, she said.
The Porterdale Christmas Parade is set for Dec. 12 at 7 p.m. and will move through city neighborhoods “where residents can safely view the parade from their front porches,” according to the city website.
Instead of the regular route along Main Street, the parade will begin at the Old Mill parking lot and work its way through Porterdale neighborhoods.
“While this year has been challenging for cities to host their regularly scheduled events, with a little bit of creativity and adaptation, the spirit of Christmas is very much present in Porterdale,” a news release stated.
“This year Porterdale residents will be able to watch the parade from the comfort and safety of their front porches and invite friends and family to join in the fun,” a release stated.
The route includes parts of Ivy, Hemlock, Main, Poplar, Elm and Crowell roads and Austin Terrace before returning to the Old Mill, according to a parade route.
Only lighted floats and entries on wheels will be featured.
Cars, trucks, golf carts and ATV units can be part of the parade but walking entries are not planned, said Downtown Development Director Josephine Kelly.
“Sadly, for 2020, there wouldn’t be the visits with Santa which normally take place at the conclusion of the parade,” the release stated.
It added that, “Ugly Christmas sweaters, along with Christmas-themed suits have become the dress code for the Porterdale Christmas parade.”
Parade applications are due Dec. 9 and can be obtained by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information, visit cityofporterdale.com or call 770-786-2217, ext. 3250.