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City’s Christmas Parade canceled

Clinton plans other activities for the holidays

There will be no Christmas parade this year in Clinton, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, City Manager Roger Houck has announced.

Citing ongoing concerns about the pandemic and challenges with finding enough volunteers to assist with the parade, Houck said that the city and the Clinton-based Anderson County Chamber of Commerce made the decision to call off this year’s event.

“It was kind of a joint decision, as the chamber is the one that puts it on,” Houck said. “They have been having trouble getting volunteers. With [COVID-19] case numbers going up, the guidelines for parades the governor put out are pretty strict. They wanted us to extend the route, because we do have a very short route. But there is no other way for us to do it.

“Also, participants wouldn’t have been able to hand out or pass out any candy,” Houck said, referring to one of the parade’s most-popular attractions for children.

“The chamber just felt they couldn’t get enough volunteers, and every day [last week] the numbers [of COVID-19 infected people] kept going up. The parade just wasn’t in the best interests of our citizens.

“We hated have to cancel; we wished we could have done it,” he said.

The nearby cities of Rocky Top and Oak Ridge are still planning to have their Christmas parades, although the one in Oak Ridge will be a “reverse” parade this year, in which the floats will remain stationary and people attending the event will merely drive by to see it without leaving their vehicles.

“That wouldn’t work for us, though,” Houck said of Clinton. “Oak Ridge has a side street that’s four lanes, so it’s feasible for them to do a drive-by parade. And in Rocky Top, they already have a long parade route. Theirs starts at the middle school and goes all the way to the interstate [-75].”

Chamber President Rick Meredith said he has “taken a lot of heat on social media” for the decision to cancel the parade, but added: “For the health and safety of everybody, we felt like it was the right decision.”

“With the pandemic, I do get fewer volunteers,” Meredith said. “It’s hard to ask them. But that’s just one of the reasons. It’s all that’s going on with the COVID; it’s getting closer to us and I didn’t feel it was safe to carry on. But it was a joint decision with the city.”

Not all is lost for Clinton as far as Christmas traditions go, however.Downtown holiday sales will continue.

Although downtown merchants have canceled their popular annual Christmas Cookie Crawl event, other events are still in the works.

“We will work with the [Historic Downtown Clinton] Merchants Association for Christmas sales events,” Meredith said. “Starting with this weekend, we will have a sidewalk Christmas sale to kick it off, and then another the first weekend in December.”

Houck said the Holiday Market Sale will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5, and that there will be a food truck on Freddie Fagan Way off Market Street.

Tree lighting planned

“We are still planning to do a small tree lighting ceremony on Friday, Dec. 4, at the Community Center,” Houck said.

“The Timely Topics women’s club had been doing it, but doesn’t want to do it this year. So, we will try to do it with city staff and maybe carolers from the middle school.”