2020 Saucon Valley Spirit Parade is Canceled

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Saucon Valley Spirit Parade

Credit: Atom Kallen / Saucon Source

Crowds line Walnut Street in Hellertown to watch the 2016 Saucon Valley Spirit Parade. (FILE PHOTO)

For the second year in a row, the pride of place and fun generated by the annual Saucon Valley Spirit Parade in Hellertown will be missing come late October.

Last year’s parade was canceled because of a drenching rain that fell the day it was to have been held, and this year’s parade was canceled by borough council Monday due to a limit on large gatherings set by the state because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The current limit on attendance at outside gatherings is 250 people. The parade ordinarily draws thousands of participants and spectators to the borough, and neither Gov. Tom Wolf nor Pennsylvania health secretary Rachel Levine have given any indication that limits on gatherings will be increased or removed anytime soon.

A number of other fall events–such as Bethlehem’s annual Celtic Classic and the Bloomsburg Fair–have also been canceled because of the restrictions on gatherings.

Planning for this year’s parade has also been minimal due to uncertainty around the ability to hold large events, council was told.

“I really don’t think we have much of a choice,” Hellertown mayor and longtime parade chairman David Heintzelman told council, in making a recommendation to cancel it. “If we’re going to follow the guidelines…we have between two and three thousand people on the sides (of the parade)…alone.”

“You must 100 percent cancel,” he said. “We don’t want to. … But if you’re going to follow the guidelines, it’s against the rules and regs.”

“I can be the bad guy for one more year,” he joked, in an apparent reference to the backlash on social media that occurred when last year’s parade was canceled.

The parade historically has not had a rain date, and there was no alternate date for the 2019 parade.

“We can be the bad guys together, because we’re a group,” councilman Mike McKenna told Heintzelman. “I think it’s the right decision for everybody.”

“I think it’s the only decision we can make,” added councilman Earl Hill.

After council unanimously passed a motion to cancel this year’s parade, Heintzelman noted that any sponsorship monies the parade committee collected will be refunded.

Trick-or-Treat in Hellertown is still planned for Saturday, Oct. 31 from 6 to 8 p.m.

Normally, Lower Saucon Township’s Trick-or-Treat Night is held at the same time.

“I think it can be done socially distanced,” council president Tom Rieger said. “I think we just need to encourage people to put the candy dishes at the bottom of their steps and stay away from one another.”

Even if the event were officially canceled, it is possible that some people would still go ahead with it, as residents of one Lower Saucon Township neighborhood chose to do last year when inclement weather also impacted Trick-or-Treat Night.

Rieger said he expected this year’s Trick-or-Treat Night to be held, barring the issuance of some type of lockdown order by state officials.

He said an email encouraging social distancing and including other information about Trick-or-Treat will be sent out by the borough.

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