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Natchez mayor announces change in Christmas parade plans after COVID-19 numbers spike

NATCHEZ — Natchez Mayor Dan Gibson took to Facebook live Sunday afternoon to announce changes to the Natchez Christmas parade scheduled for Dec. 5.

(See the Facebook live message here.)

Instead of having the floats parade through town for bystanders on street corners to watch, Gibson said it will be a “Christmas parade in reverse” as the floats will park on the side of Broadway Street and spectators can drive by in their vehicles to view the parked floats.

At the end of the route, “Elves” will hand out candy to people in the vehicles, Gibson said.

Gibson said the decision came because Natchez’s COVID-19 numbers are going up with 40 new cases announced in Adams County on Saturday.

Gibson noted that the first 200 COVID-19 cases in Adams County took many weeks but that in the past 17 days, Adams County has recorded more than 200 cases and it is overburdening healthcare workers and first responders.

Gibson said he created the Facebook live event Sunday because his plan to change the Christmas Parade could not wait until later in the week.

“There is a lot of demand on our system right now and there are a lot of families grieving right now, because they have lost loved ones,” Gibson said, adding the community needs to protect the local economy. “What I am going to suggest is we need to get really serious about wearing our masks.”

Gibson acknowledged many people do not like to wear masks, but said it is a “simple ask.” Gibson said at Saturday night’s Christmas tree lighting event in downtown Natchez many people were not wearing masks or socially distancing despite several signs informing them to do so.

“It was a cause for concern,” Gibson said, adding that studies show that mask wearing cuts down on the spread of COVID-19.

Gibson said he spoke with Adams County Emergency Management Director Robert Bradford before making any decisions on the Christmas parade and together they came up with a plan.

“We are going to have our Christmas Parade,” Gibson said. “…but it is going to be a reverse parade.”

Gibson said that plans are still being worked out but tentatively at 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5, traffic will be directed to the north end of Broadway to travel one-way south on Broadway to view the floats.

“At the end, people will reach the climax of the event,” Gibson said. “We will have Santa Claus set up at the bandstand.”

“Volunteer elves” wearing masks and gloves, Gibson said, would distribute candy to the children in vehicles as they pass by.

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