The coronavirus has infected another holiday classic.
The 25th annual Lighted Holiday Parade sponsored by the Fort Atkinson Area Chamber of Commerce that was scheduled for this Saturday has been canceled.
“The main reason for canceling Saturday’s parade was the number of parade entries that canceled their participation after Gov. (Tony) Evers’ orders yesterday. They didn’t feel safe participating and we respect that,” said Carrie Chisholm, chamber executive director.
In an unusual prime-time speech Tuesday hours after Wisconsin set new records for positive cases of COVID-19, Evers renewed his pleas for people to stay home to avoid the spreading the coronavirus.
“So, I want to be clear tonight: Each day this virus goes unchecked is a setback for our economic recovery,” Evers said. “Our bars, restaurants, small businesses, families, and farmers will continue to suffer if we don’t take action right now — our economy cannot bounce back until we contain this virus.”
There were no further actions, however, during the speech that changes any gathering rules at restaurants or bars.
The chamber was planning a large celebration for the 25th anniversary of the parade.
“We didn’t feel we had enough time to create an alternate option and communicate that to the public at large,” Chisholm said.
But there still will be plenty of chances for children to see Santa this year, she promised.
“Badger Bank is doing a drive-through Santa on Saturday, Dec. 5, so kids can put a wish list of items in the canister,” Chisholm said.
The items will then be sent to Santa Claus, who will be waving from inside the bank.
Chisholm said the chamber also is encouraging businesses to light up Fort Atkinson.
“They can park floats in front of a business or drive around town. We are encouraging businesses to do that, as well,” Chisholm said.
Another chance for a Santa visit will be on Monday, Dec. 14.
Brooke Franseen, director of the Fort Atkinson Parks and Recreation Department, said they have partnered with the Fort Atkinson Rotary Club for Jingling the Clauses.
Parents can go to the Parks and Recreation website to fill out a form for Santa and Mrs. Claus will call a child to ask about the year and what he or she wants for Christmas.
“Usually the call is one to three minutes, depending how talkative the child is back to Santa,” she said, adding that the calls will come from 67, a blocked number.
A Google form is available on the Parks and Recreation Department website at https://www.fortparksandrec.com/.
There will be a series of questions like age and what the child might want. There evenis a category about behaviors parents might wish to reinforce, like brushing their teeth.
The sign-up deadline for the event is at midnight Monday, Dec. 7.
Chisholm noted that the chamber’s Holiday Prade Committee worked hard to make the event accessible to everyone and was going to be live-streaming the event so that residents could watch the parade from the safety and comfort of their own homes if they wished.