Encinitas changes its mind: Holiday parade is back on for Dec. 4

The Encinitas Fire Dept. brought the big trucks to the city's 2018 Holiday Parade.
(McKenzie Images)

City Council has reversed last week’s decision to cancel the event for second year due to COVID safety concerns


The Encinitas Holiday parade will return this year after all. Late Wednesday night, Oct. 27, the City Council voted to reverse the city’s decision last week to cancel the popular evening event due to COVID safety concerns.

The vote was 4-1, with Councilwoman Kellie Shay Hinze opposed. The parade is scheduled to occur on Dec. 4 and will follow its usual route down Coast Highway 101.

“One thing that we could really use right now is a very normal tradition of our city,” Councilman Tony Kranz said as he declared his support for having the parade.

Councilman Joe Mosca, who has two school-aged sons, said he has been volunteering at Boy Scout Troop 2000’s Haunted House in Olivenhain recently and it has had record attendance because so many people are hungry for a return to normalcy. Mosca said he thought the city shouldn’t cancel the parade, but should “adjust the reality” by encouraging mask wearing and prioritizing public safety.

Mayor Catherine Blakespear said she was in favor of “un-canceling” the parade, declaring, “I think we’ll hold this parade with the highest standards of safety and I believe it will be a big success.”

Hinze said she could see that the others on the council were going to support having the event, but she was voting with her conscience and thought the city should stick with its original decision.

“I’m still feeling very cautious,” Hinze said, noting that the nation has experienced spikes in coronavirus cases around the holidays and many children aren’t yet eligible for the vaccine.

The city announced in a press release last week that it was canceling the parade for the second year in a row, saying it was doing so due to state Department of Public Health guidelines for “mega-events.” The state guidelines recommended that the city verify that attendees are fully vaccinated or had a negative COVID-19 test, something that would have been extremely difficult to coordinate in a parade setting where there is no controlled access point to watch or participate.

City Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts Director Travis Karlen told the council Wednesday night, Oct. 27, that the state health department’s “strong recommendations” weren’t the only driving factors leading to last week’s decision to cancel, which was made after months of event preparation work. He said parade entry bookings also were down by 50 percent compared to pre-pandemic figures.

Kranz asked him whether the parade could truly be considered a “mega-event” and Karlen said there was no doubt of that. Roughly 10,000 to 20,000 people typically attend it.

The city’s earlier cancellation announcement came under fire because other large events in Encinitas are going forward or have just recently occurred, including Encinitas Chamber of Commerce’s State of the City event earlier this month and the huge Encinitas Holiday Street Fair coming up in November.

Julie Thunder, one of about a half-dozen people who spoke to the council on the parade issue Wednesday night, Oct. 27, noted that the two-day Street Fair typically draws even more people than the parade and it’s held at the same location.

Council members who attended the recent State of the City event said there were differences between that event and the parade. Hinze said she considered the parade to be the most high risk of the various Encinitas events because parade watchers are packed close together for long periods of time in a somewhat “stagnant” situation.

Kranz said he “floated the idea” of relocating the parade to El Camino Real because there’s more space for people to spread out there, but relocating it would be a logistical challenge at this point. He said El Camino ought to have a parade of its own and suggested doing a Fourth of July parade there.