The Tuscaloosa County Park and Recreation Authority has cancelled the annual West Alabama Christmas Parade due to a low participation rate this year, the organization announced Friday.

PARA announced last month that the parade would work differently this year as the area, state and nation continue to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic and planned a plan for a "reverse parade" with stationary floats that area spectators drove by to see.

Friday, PARA spokeswoman Becky Booker informed parade participants that because of low participation numbers, the parade will be canceled for the first time in 45 years.

“In March, when COVID-19 guidelines were first enacted, we knew that we might not be able to host the typical parade with 15,000+ people in attendance, as we typically do. We researched, studied different methods, and talked with peers across the nation and then planned a 'reverse' parade,” Booker said in a release. “We very much appreciate our community support and know that much time, hard work and holiday spirit goes into each float, decorated vehicle, marching group and band. However, low participation numbers prevented us from presenting a meaningful parade."

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Instead, PARA will now host a "Santa Sighting" event where members of the public can still find some holiday cheer by taking selfies with Mr. and Mrs. Claus.

That event will take place on December 4th in downtown Tuscaloosa's Government Plaza from 6:30 until 7:30 p.m.

PARA and Theatre Tuscaloosa will also present an original play that night called “Lights Out for Christmas in Cootah County: A Country (COVID) Christmas Carol."



Booker said PARA is looking forward to bringing that parade back for Christmas 2021.

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