Smoky Mountain News, written by Holly Kayes

The Sylva Town Board has voted unanimously this evening to cancel this year’s Christmas Parade, citing coronavirus concerns.

“Having our traditional Christmas parade is not something that’s good for public health,” said Commissioner Ben Guiney, who is a doctor at Harris Regional Hospital.

Guiney said that a widely distributed vaccine is not likely before Christmas, and that the cold weather’s tendency to drive people indoors often results in a spike in respiratory illnesses that time of year anyway. Therefore, hosting a large event like the Christmas Parade is not a good idea.

“If you want a motion to cancel the parade, I’d be glad to make it,” said Commissioner David Nestler.

Case counts are currently on the upswing, said Commissioner Greg McPherson. He agreed that cancellation was the best move. Commissioner Mary Gelbaugh said that it makes her sad to cancel such a well-loved event, especially on top of all the other COVID-related cancellations that have happened already, but she agreed it was the right decision.

“I think it’s just not feasible,” added Commissioner Barbara Hamilton, a retired nurse. “We’re going to hit the flu season with the COVID season and I don’t look for things to get very much better.”

Mayor Lynda Sossamon suggested that boar members spend the next month or so thinking of alternative ways to celebrate Christmas without risking transmission of the virus.

“I’m sad about this,” she said. “I think it’s one of our best events. It brings so many people downtown, but we have to be safe and keep everyone that would come safe.”