Washington and Canonsburg have canceled their annual Christmas celebrations this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a statement released Thursday, the Washington Business District Authority said the “difficult decision” to cancel the annual parade was made after much consideration.

“This was solely due to the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Sarah Collier, a representative for the business district. “We love the parade and that joyful experience every year. We are working with business owners and community partners to figure out safe and distanced ways to still celebrate the season.”

The Christmas parade typically runs from Chestnut Street, down Main Street to the Community Pavilion, where the Holiday Market is usually set up. Last year, the parade had about 70 entries.

“While we love this longstanding tradition and consider it the unofficial start to the holiday season, the health and safety of our children and our community must come first,” the Business District Authority said in a statement.

The authority said itplans to work with business owners and Santa Claus to bring cheer to Washington. Collier said the city will put up outdoor decorations, and the county will erect the Christmas tree downtown.

“We still want to bring the holiday spirit to downtown; we just want to do that safely and spread out,” she said.

Canonsburg, too, has decided to cancel its annual Old Fashioned Christmas festival, which had been planned for Dec. 4 and 5. Lisa Scarmazzi, the festival’s committee chair, said they would need so many volunteers for cleaning tables and sanitizing restrooms. She said it would also be difficult to monitor the number of people gathering and social distancing measures.

“Still, our theme this year is ‘The Grinch did not steal the spirit of Christmas,’” Scarmazzi said.

The committee, she said, will still put up lights on the buildings around town, along with garland and window displays in storefronts on Pike Street. Bluestar USA will set up its Christmas tree sale in town again, and with every tree purchased, it will donate a tree and ornament set to a family in need.

“People will still be buying Christmas trees this year, so why not come to Canonsburg to buy one for a good cause,” Scarmazzi said.

“This is what our town’s all about. Christmas will go on in Canonsburg.”

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