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Santa rode on top of a LBFD truck at the 37th annual Belmont Shore Christmas Parade on Dec. 7, 2019.

Decisions had been made earlier, and the current state of COVID-19 restrictions offered no reason to expect a change, but an email newsletter last week seemed to catch Belmont Shore special event supporters by surprise.

That newsletter from the Belmont Shore Business Association said the 38th annual Belmont Shore Christmas parade would not happen in 2020. It also mourned cancellation of Trick Or Treat On Second Street, and the Belmont Shore Art Walk & Chalk Contest.

The list of canceled events was preceded by this statement: "No events will be scheduled because of Covid at least through the end of the year."

"The board made that decision months ago," Dede Rossi, BSBA executive director, said. That took place when the summer Stroll & Savor events were canceled.

"It's just that we normally put the parade application on the website around Sept. 1," Rossi said about the newsletter announcement. "I was trying to keep it positive — the parklet restaurant program has been extended to the end of the year, and the Small Business Saturday is still going on."

Shore Parade Santa

Santa rides on top of a LBFD truck Saturday at the 37th annual Belmont Shore Christmas Parade to officially declare Christmas starts Second Street. 

Small Business Saturday, on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, Nov. 28, is a promotion, not an event, Rossi said, so doesn't fall under the no large groups restriction due to the coronavirus.

The Belmont Shore Christmas Parade has become the largest holiday parade in the area, drawing up to 50,000 spectators and more than 100 entries. It takes months to plan, Rossi said, securing sponsors, handling logistics and getting permits from the city.

The parade traditionally takes place on the first Saturday in December. Rossi said the BSBA already is working to make sure the Second Street business district still has the holiday vibe, with decorations and lighting.

She has received some angry and disappointed messages since the newsletter went out, she added.

"People are very sensitive when it comes to their traditions," Rossi said. "We were going to make an announcement (about the parade cancellation), but then the Rose Parade announced it was cancelling. We figured our announcement would get lost."

This is the first time the parade has been canceled. Rossi said it will return in 2021, assuming the pandemic has passed.

Youngsters and the young at heart took a double hit this year. In addition to the parade, the annual walk along Second Street gathering candy in Halloween costumes has been canceled as well.

"I'm really going to miss Trick or Treat," Rossi said. "I love seeing all the kids in costumes."

Harry has been executive editor of Gazette Newspapers for more than 26 years. He has been in the newspaper business for more than 35 years, with experience on both weekly and metropolitan daily papers in Colorado and California.

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