Editor’s note: This article has been corrected to clarify the location of the 2021 Holiday Bowl Parade.
ENCINITAS, Calif. – The annual Encinitas Holiday Parade has been canceled this year with city leaders citing California public health guidance on verifying attendees’ COVID-19 vaccination status.
Although the city acknowledges state guidelines for mega-events may be updated by early next week, they believe it “unlikely” the policy will change on outdoor events. But Encinitas City Council is scheduled to take up the issue at its Wednesday meeting, during which the body is expected to give direction on whether the cancellation of the Dec. 4 event should be reconsidered with additional planning and mask-wearing encouraged.
Under current state guidelines, outdoor events with 10,000 or more people are recommended by the state’s Department of Public Health to verify attendees are fully vaccinated or have received a negative COVID test prior to the event.
“Since the parade event does not have a defined access point to verify vaccination status and/or a negative test result it would not be possible to follow this recommendation by the State,” the city’s statement reads.
According to a city statement released last week, implementing possible modifications “would exceed available parade resources and greatly impact both the spectator and participant experience.”
The cancellation would be a disappointment to some, such as Ironsmith Coffee Roasters owner Matt Delarosa. He called the parade one of only a few North County events geared for families.
This year would have marked the first time his young sons could attend the Encinitas Holiday Parade.
“Kids as young as like 1, 2 come out for it,” Delarosa said. “People line up on the streets. It’s one of the things we look forward to during the holidays.”
Travis Karlen, director of the city’s Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts Department, said the footprint of the downtown parade doesn’t allow for one or even two access points needed to comply with state guidelines.
“They would not be able to use self-attestation to determine that,” Karlen said. “We would have to check each person’s negative COVID test or negative test results.”
Dozens of holiday events are planned throughout San Diego County. So far, the only other major cancellation is in the South Bay with the Chula Vista Starlight Parade also nixed. The 2021 Holiday Bowl Parade is still on along the Embarcadero.
In Encinitas, the parade’s cancellation is a lost opportunity for businesses like Delarosa’s, as it typically runs right outside of his storefront. But he says it’s also not the end of the world.
“It’s sad,” Delarosa said. “I wish it would happen, but I would understand. They are the ones that have to make those kinds of decisions.”
Wednesday’s meeting starts at 6 p.m. and will be held at Encinitas City Council Chambers. It will be broadcast live here.
FOX 5’s Dillon Davis contributed to this report.