County health department again urges Town of Youngsville to cancel Christmas parade as COVID-19 surges

YOUNGSVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- The Youngsville Christmas Parade looks to be set in stone for this weekend despite calls from county health officials to cancel the event.

On Wednesday afternoon, the director of the Franklin County Health Department sent a second email to the Town of Youngsville, urging town officials to cancel the Christmas parade planned for the morning of December 5.

It was the second such letter sent by Health Director Scott LaVigne -- the first of which was sent over Thanksgiving weekend.

The original letter asked the town to provide a plan to the health department that showed how the parade would be held in compliance with guidance on limiting the spread of COVID-19. It said that, if the town did not provide a plan, the health department may be forced to invoke the Public Health Imminent Hazard Abatement Order to put a stop to the parade.

Wednesday's letter said: "We would once again urge the Town of Youngsville to reconsider (the decision to hold the parade) and to either cancel this parade or significantly alter it to conform with additional guidance..."

The health department asked for an estimate for the number of spectators, a list of parade participant organizations, a written plan for how the town will ensure face coverings are worn and a written plan for how the town will ensure spectators socially distance.

The Town of Youngsville mayor, Fonzie Flowers, responded to the health advisory Thursday night, "If a Wal-Mart, a Target a Lowe's, a Home Depot, if they can have the number of people they have in their store in an enclosed environment, we can certainly have a couple hundred Youngsville residents along our parade route."

Flowers said he's very much aware that the pandemic is ongoing but believes it has been a rough year and hopes that the Christmas parade serves as a beacon of hope.

"At the end of the day, we're trying to do something positive and trying to make a difference and give people hope," Flowers said.
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The Youngsville Christmas Parade looks to be set in stone for this weekend, according to the Youngsville mayor, despite calls from county health officials to cancel the event.

The town board of commissioners announced earlier this week that it was still planning to move forward with the parade while incorporating "a variety of COVID-19 mitigation measures."

The board said the decision came after "overwhelming support from the community to continue."

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported a record-high number of COVID-19 cases in the state on Thursday -- with 5,637.

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The town urged people with COVID-19 symptoms or those who are high-risk or live with someone who is high-risk to stay at home and not attend the parade.
People who attend the parade are being asked to social distance and wear a face covering.

"To those with continued reservations we would like to share that - when using the standards established in our governor's executive orders regarding the square-foot-per-person limits for retail stores - the "capacity" of our 18.2-acre parade route would be over five times the population of Youngsville," the board said. "Thus, we're confident that when parade goers observe physical distancing and spread-out along the parade route (along with observing all other guidelines), we will have a safe and successful parade."

The governor's current order limits outdoor gatherings to 50.
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