PRE-PARADE SEATING

Staff photo by Albert Villegas

People in the Wharton and the surrounding communities made it possible for the Wharton Chamber of Commerce & Agriculture to host its 40th annual Christmas Holiday Parade earlier this week around the downtown area. Spectators had something to look forward to in an otherwise challenging year as the parade occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced people to exercise social distancing and wearing of facial masks.

The Wharton parade turned 40 in 2020.

It almost didn’t happen.

Days leading up to the parade, which was held on Tuesday, Nov. 24, the Wharton Chamber of Commerce & Agriculture had announced there was a low number of parade entries, and that it was likely to be cancelled.

The WCC&A said on Thursday, Nov. 19 that it had received a steady flow of inquiries from the public if the parade was going to be called off.

“We have set a goal of at least 30 entries,” the WCC&A said. “Right now, we are 23. We will make the call at noon, Friday, Nov. 20.”

WCC&A was urging people to have their entries turned in. Once news of a possible cancellation was put out to the public, the number of entries skyrocketed.

Ron Sanders, WCC&A executive director, told the Wharton City Council during its Monday, Nov. 23 regular meeting that it had 47 entries.

A week before when the WCC&A had announced it had 23 entries, it also reminded the community of the time we are living in - the COVID-19 pandemic.

“ ... There is one additional requirement. We required a safe parade. If you are within six feet of another person, wear the mask,” the WCC&A said. “Better yet, wear a mask no matter the distance.”

Hundreds of people who attended heeded not only the WCC&A warning, but prior warnings that had come from the Wharton County and City of Wharton officials for months, dating back to March.

Sanders has said in the past that it was not out of the ordinary during a normal year for the WCC&A to receive entries late in preparation for the parade. There has never been the threat of cancelling the parade altogether.

However, the coronavirus has put a wrench in the machine.

Nevertheless, it paved the way for Parade Marshall Sherrell Speer to partake in the event. Last year and in year’s past, he had MC’d the event from in front of the Plaza Theatre. This year, the Wharton ISD Trustee was part of it.

According to the WCC&A, parade winners were as follows: Marching – Girls Scouts of San Jacinto, Vehicle – D.A.R.E. with officer Robin of the Wharton County Sheriff’s Office, Non-Commercial – College Heights Baptist Church, and Commercial –  Tree Town USA.

 

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