COVID-19 cancels DeLand Christmas parade, forcing city to find new ways to stay merry

Santa, Grinch to visit neighborhoods

DeLand city officials are finding new ways to stay merry during the coronavirus pandemic.

DeLAND, Fla. – For the last 21 years, Anita Rash can remember the DeLand Christmas Parade that marches right outside her door.

Rash’s shop, Anita’s Furniture and Home Decor, sits right on the main drag of Woodland Boulevard and it’s one of the best seats in the house to catch the annual parade.

“We have sleds, we have all of the Christmas themes, we have all of the bands. It’s just a great event. We love it and this year it’s going to be quite different,” Rash said.

Because of COVID-19, this is the first time in 72 years the parade will not happen. It’s a major event that brings major business to the city. While Rash said her store is doing well, some of her neighbors are not and usually rely on the thousands of people who attend the parade to bring in business.

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“They make a whole day of it. The parade is not until the evening so, therefore the merchants and the restaurants, they all do very well with that,” she said.

The City of DeLand decided to cancel the parade because it’s not safe to have the event in the middle of a pandemic.

“Unfortunately, Christmas isn’t the same here in DeLand this year but we’re going to do our best to bring the holiday cheer to everyone,” said DeLand City Spokesman Chris Graham.

Graham said they tried throwing a static drive-thru parade but not enough people participated, so they’re bringing out the big guns and will be delivering the star of the show to a neighborhood near you.

“Starting on Dec. 4, we’re going to have our tree lighting and then we’re going to have Santa riding around in an antique firetruck through neighborhoods throughout DeLand. Some of our city commissioners will be joining him,” Graham said.

The Grinch will also be riding with Santa.

“It’s going to be a couple of nights in December from 6-7:30 p.m. Just wishing everyone a Merry Christmas,” he said.

Rash said she’s happy that the city is doing what it can to bring holiday cheer as she continues to stay positive for a healthy new year.

“It’s better to have that than nothing. We’re going to start off next year with a better year and next year we’ll have a parade hopefully,” Rash said.

Click here to see when and where Santa will make stops throughout DeLand.

About the Author:

Loren Korn is a native Texan who joined the News 6 team as a reporter in May 2014. She was born and raised in Houston and graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in Journalism.