DODGE CITY — With many special events canceled or put on hold this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the undeterred organizers of Dodge City’s annual Christmas Parade of Lights were determined to come up with a safe solution to ensure the tradition but with a twist.
"The parade is a cherished holiday tradition enjoyed by hundreds of residents and out-of-town guests and we couldn’t let 2020 end without having something available for our community to enjoy," said Jerri Whitley, with Victory Electric. "But we knew having that many people gathered along a parade route would make the task of keeping citizens safe and enforcing spectators to socially distance next to impossible."
With support from community officials and effort to create a safe, fun environment for all, parade organizers redesigned the traditional parade into a"reverse" paradeformat. From 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on November 30, spectators will drive past stationary, socially spaced floats as they "Make Your Way Down Candy Cane Lane." The new parade format allows for social distancing between parade entries and no direct contact with spectators.
"It’s 2020, and I think everyone has gotten familiar with the unexpected," said Megan Welsh, Dodge City Convention and Visitors Bureau. "Although this parade format will be something new — we hope it brings the same excitement and fun for everyone.
"We want everyone to feel like they are part of the parade by either decorating a float or by driving through the parade. Spectators can even add to the festivities by decorating their vehicles, too. The more holiday spirit flowing, the better."
The reverse parade will be set up in the Wright Park area, ensuring plenty of space for parade floats and displays while providing viewers with safe space in which to take in the lights and Christmas decorations.
This year, event organizers choose to cancel the chili cook-off that is traditionally held in conjunction with the parade for safety reasons.
For people unable to physically attend the parade, organizers plan to use social media via Facebook Live and television’s Cox Channel 8 so community members can enjoy the parade fromtheir own homes.
More information will be relayed as determined on the "Christmas in Dodge City" Facebook page at www.facebook.com/christmasindodgecity.
The 2020 Dodge City "Reverse" Christmas Parade of Lights is sponsored by Victory Electric Cooperative, City of Dodge City, Dodge City Daily Globe, Southwind Broadcasting, Main Street Dodge City, Dodge City Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Dodge City Area Chamber of Commerce.