The city of Peru has decided to cancel the Hometown Christmas: Light Up the Night Parade and following event at Washington Park.
The event was scheduled to take place Saturday, Dec. 5, but following discussion during Monday’s council meeting it will be canceled because of COVID-19 related precautions.
Following the recent mitigations from Gov. JB Pritzker members of the council believed the cancellation was the best way to help keep the community and their workers safe.
Alderman Aaron Buffo brought the discussion in front of the council with the concern of asking city police officers to man intersections and putting them in risk during the recent spike in COVID-19 cases in the area.
“As much as I want to have a parade, it worries me that we’re going to be calling in extra officers and placing them in higher risk of not having officers on the road,” Buffo said. “I think reluctantly we need to have the discussion to cancel the parade for our workers' sake.”
Aside from city employees, the safety of viewers of the parade also were an area of concern for the council.
Members of the council believe the committee for the parade had done a great job trying to ensure the public's safety, but they believed they could not control the actions of those viewing the parade.
“It looks like we can control our end but we don’t have the ability to control the public,” Alderman Mike Radtke said. “That’s my concern. There’s enough people out there that don’t believe in masks that I think you’re going to have a lot of people coming through the parade that won't adhere to anything.”
Precautions, such as masks, gloves and a longer parade route to help ensure social distancing were all mentioned by Director of Parks, Recreations and Special Events Adam Thorson.
Areas of concern for the council include all aspects, such as gift wrapping, gift exchange and the possibility of crowds during the parade and the subsequent event.
Alderman Tony Ferrari and Mayor Scott Harl voiced their concern with the ability to hand out presents during the event without the risk of possible exposure for everyone involved.
Harl mentioned the city itself has 32% of its full-time employees affected by COVID-19 either by infection or as a primary or secondary exposure.
“I think it’s a situation where we wouldn’t allow baseball,” Ferrari said. “I think it’s to the point where we need to cancel it.”
Buffo said going forward with the parade as planned could be seen as hypocritical as people continue to deal with the ongoing pandemic.
Alderman Tom Payton agreed with the cancellation and believed Peru has done well with its pandemic response and a parade could take away from the city’s progress.
“This whole year we’ve had to cancel so many things because of COVID-19 and I just don’t think it’s fair to our employees and the public that we disregard everything we’ve done all year for public safety to have a Christmas parade and gift exchange,” Payton said. “We’ll have a bigger and better one next year."