REED CITY — Organizers of the annual Reed City Evergreen Festival have decided to cancel this year's parade as a result of COVID-19.
"Due to newly published guidelines by the (Michigan Department and Health and Human Services), and restrictions passed down by local authorities, the Chamber of Commerce has made the unfortunate decision to not host the upcoming Evergreen Festival parade that was scheduled for (today)," reads a post on the Reed City Chamber of Commerce Facebook page.
"Due to the continued spike in local COVID cases, as a Chamber, we want our businesses to be able to open their doors as soon as possible, and not be a contributing factor to a prolonged shutdown ... We may, however, attempt to reschedule this after the current epidemic order is up, and will work with local authorities on those possibilities."
The Cadillac News reached out to festival organizer Tricia Foco-Wirth about the chamber's decision but didn't hear back by press time, however, she posted a more detailed explanation in response to a question online.
"We have no marching band, several businesses who can’t or chose not to participate, Osceola County Emergency Management Team can’t participate so therefore no help with traffic control/parking, (Reed City Police Department) having a small department and limited (number) of officers who risk exposing their (department), causing it to shut down due to 14-day quarantine mandates, etc.," Foco-Wirth said. "It would be risking more teachers and students getting 'exposed,' causing longer school shut downs due to lack of teachers ... I respect and support the reasons behind why I was asked to shut it down. The issue of having a larger gathering is that it promotes the chances of more exposures ... We are hoping that eliminating or limiting large gatherings will curb the spike in our immediate county that is having right now so we can get our business doors back open."
Even though the parade was canceled, the chamber is still moving forward with a district-wide Christmas light contest.
The contest allows for both residential and commercial participants.
Residential displays have four categories to choose from with a chance to win $100. Categories include best magical Christmas theme display, best animated/inflatable display, best lighted display, and most creative display.
Best business display receives bragging rights, Spirit Competition Award, eight by 24 paver displayed at the Reed City Depot, and a pizza party (not to exceed $50).
Submissions will be accepted until Dec. 10 and lights must remain on until Dec. 25 to allow time for judging. Winners will be announced by Dec. 30.
All participants must reside in the Reed City school district. All participants who want to be added to the map must email their address to TriciaWirthRealtor@gmail.com.