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Plug pulled on Parade of Lights

Chad Frey
cfrey@thekansan.com
Santa will not be making a trip downtown as part of the Parade of Lights this year. The Lions Club first moved the event to Athletic Park and attempted to create a reverse parade as a drive thru-event before a lack of entries forced cancellation.

As one area community attempts to launch a Christmas parade, another’s changes to save a parade in light of COVID-19, crowd-size limits and social distancing concerns were unable to do so.

The 22nd annual Newton Parade of Lights, which this year would have been a reverse parade, has been canceled.

“The reverse parade concept, I think was going to work logistically, and would be a safe alternative for the public and audience to come — but we did not get enough entries to come,” said Erin McDaniel, member of the Newton Lions Club and parade organizer.

Meanwhile, in McPherson, a grassroots effort to host the first Parade of Lights is moving forward. The parade is set for Dec. 19.

“I had a patriot parade on Halloween in McPherson, and I am going to follow along with that,” said Casey Schropp, who is spearheading the effort to create a parade. “I am hoping to make this a McPherson tradition. I grew up in the south and we do Christmas big there. Basically, I am trying to get people to decorate their cars with some lights, maybe some trailers with a float style.”

She said with all the restrictions and closures from COVID-19, her primary focus is a vehicle parade — a kind of cruise night.

“We want to drive by the local nursing homes so the residents can have some holiday cheer,” Schropp said. “We want to bring some livelihood back to McPherson. ... So far we have quite a few people interested.”

There are no minimums for the number of lights on a vehicle, or real stringent rules for the McPherson parade night.

“2020 has been quite the year. Some people are not financially able to decorate their vehicles. Whatever works for you works for us,” Schropp said. “Do what you can. Even if it is caroling and singing to give Christmas cheer. We will have some extra decorations to help people.”

The hope is the event will grow over time, similar to what has happened in Newton.

“This year I am trying to bring a little normalcy to McPherson,” Schropp said. “... Hopefully next year we do it even bigger and better, maybe a traditional parade.”

To participate in the McPherson event, call or text 620-504-2662.

The Newton Lions Club has organized the Newton parade for the past 10 years, taking the reins of Santa’s sleigh from the Newton Area Chamber of Commerce.

Normally a downtown event, the parade routinely drew 40 to 50 entries. The plan was to move the event to Athletic Park and have families/parade goers drive through the park using Athletic Park Circle to view parade floats parked on the side of the circle.

On Monday, just three days before the event, there were only 10 entries for a reverse parad.

“We heard from churches and organizations that were normally in the parade that they could not risk getting their people together to create a float,” McDaniel said. “Businesses had too many people out because of COVID-19.”

And some groups that usually put together multiple entries are not meeting in person.

“It becomes an issue of whether we might be able to have the event, but the county has also limited mass gatherings to 10,” McDaniel said. “... We hate to (cancel), I know people are eager for Christmas cheer and we had hoped to put on something that would lift people’s spirits.”

Casey Schropp is organizing what she calls "Parade of Lights, McPherson Style," a cruise night that could include floats if organizations are so inclined to create them, for Dec. 19 in McPherson. Meanwhile, the 22nd annual Newton Parade of Lights, which included classic cars, has been canceled.