Johnstown Holiday Parade to return, but with precautions 

PHOTOGRAPHER:

Santa Claus waves to the throngs of spectators lining North Main Street in Johnstown during the 2014 Johnstown holiday parade.

Photo Caption: Santa Claus waves to the throngs of spectators lining North Main Street in Johnstown for the 10th annual Classic Image Johnstown Holiday Parade on in 2014. FILE PHOTO

JOHNSTOWN  — After being canceled last year due to the pandemic, Johnstown’s annual “Home for the Holidays” Holiday Parade will be held downtown on Friday, Dec. 3 at 6:30 p.m., but not without safety precautions that are reminders of the times.  

Fire Chief Bruce Heberer, who helps coordinate the event, said the parade participation rate is about at pre-pandemic levels, with roughly 60 businesses, groups and organizations already signed up. Parade participants range from fire and police departments to small businesses and Boy Scouts. And, of course, Santa Claus.

However, various health and safety measures will be in place. People who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 are expected to wear masks, Heberer said, although the fire chief noted there is not an easy way to enforce that rule. Fulton County’s COVID-19 case count remains one of the highest in New York state, with a 7-day average of 62.1 cases per 100,000 at the time of writing, according to the state Department of Health numbers.

In addition, the Johnstown Police Department will ramp up patrols during the holiday event in light of the SUV attack that killed six people and injured more than 60 at a Christmas parade on Nov. 21 in Waukesha, Wisconsin.

“We are taking the extra precautions just to make sure that we have full control of the streets,” Johnstown Police Chief David Gilbo said. “Especially for as small of a community as we are, I don’t foresee any large issues, but we have to take proper steps to make sure we have a lot of the areas covered. We’re not overly concerned, but we will be taking steps to make sure that things are done correctly.”

Despite the extra public health and safety measures, Heberer said he’s hoping for a triumphant return.

“The weather is supposed to be clear and a little cold. I would like to see Main Street full,” Heberer said. Typically, several hundred people line the route from Chase Street to Sir William Johnson Park, where the city’s Christmas tree is lit, Heberer said.

Peter O’Lucci, who also helps coordinate the event, said he’s happy the parade is back on.

“It’s nice to have it back with everything that’s going on,” O’Lucci said. “Obviously the kids enjoy it, and it’s nice to see them having fun again.”

Heberer said the extra safety precautions make him somewhat sad, but he said it’s essential to be prepared.

“You plan for the worst and hope for the best,” Heberer said.

And perhaps the parade’s positive spirit can have a lasting impact, he added.

 “The parade shows that we are peace-loving people, and no matter what happens throughout the year, we can find time to be nice to each other,” Heberer said. “We have to be nice to each other. Hopefully, that carries on throughout the year. So come on out, enjoy yourself, put away the hatred, support the community and have a good time.” 

Andrew Waite can be reached at awaite@dailygazette.net and at 518-417-9338. Follow him on Twitter @UpstateWaite. 

By Andrew Waite

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