The Metropolis Lions Club has reluctantly cancelled its annual Labor Day Parade over concerns about the potential spread of COVID-19.
“We just decided that is was impossible for everyone to social distance, even for the parade participants,” said Maxine Russell, club secretary.
“Normally we have the high school band. We didn’t think there would be a way to do that ... the virus has stymied everything.”
According to Russell, there was obvious concern for the children’s safety, particularly when it comes to the candy thrown by parade participants.
“A lot of the kids look forward to it. They’re all out in the streets trying to get candy. There’s no way to screen people and no way to sanitize that candy.”
The parade was a mainstay in the community, attracting participation from a number of labor unions and area politicians, among others, according to Russell.
Metropolis Mayor Billy McDaniel said the Lions Club discussed their decision with him and he agreed.
“I think everybody knows right now that anything pertaining to a parade or a 250-300 person gathering or whatever, is not a good idea,” he said.
“I supported it (the decision) 100%.”
Russell is hopeful the parade can be held next year. Like other service organizations with an aging membership, the Lions Club has seen its numbers dwindle.
“The club had gotten down to two members and we built it up to 13,” she said. “And, now this happened.”
The club has also been impacted by the closing of the Southern Illinois Children’s Center in Carterville.
“That was one of our big fundraisers where we would do roadblocks for crippled children. So that (the center’s closing) took the wind out of our sales because everybody looks forward to raising money for the telethon.”
Russell is particularly sorry for the kids who won’t be able to enjoy the parade.
“It’s a shame. It seems like we’re taking everything away from the kids. They did sort of open up the parks, but there’s just not a lot to do. They can’t go to the movies, they can’t go to the skating rink,” she said.
“It’s sad. We’ll just keep praying that the numbers (of COVID cases) will go down.”