VALDOSTA, Ga. (WTXL) — While Lowndes County remains in the red zone, Valdosta organizers put COVID-19 guidelines in place to keep their annual Christmas parade going this year.
"Very strict guidelines just to make sure even though we are bringing this parade to the community that it's as safe as possible," said Ellen Hill, the director of Valdosta Main Street.
This year, parade-goers and those on floats will have to wear masks.
There will be no handing out of things like candy or fliers.
For those watching, markers will be on the ground to help with social distancing for a two-mile stretch.
"The community has made it very clear that this is an important holiday tradition for our community, so we just wanted to make sure even though it was 2020 and even though there was a pandemic, that we did bring this to the community," said Hill.
Even with those changes, health leaders believe there's good reason for concern.
Data from the Georgia Department of Public Health shows the state climbed by more than 37,000 cases in the past two weeks. In Lowndes County, Public Health reports there have been 419 cases in the past two weeks.
"It is something that we're always concerned about, but we do know things are going to happen and take place, and we encourage people to take all the precautions that they can," said Georgia Public Health Director of Communications, Courtney Sheeley.
Regardless of plans this holiday season, Sheeley has a message for everyone about the importance of following the CDC guidelines.
"Surely we don't want people to miss Christmas with their families because they're under quarantine or isolation," said Sheeley.
For those who'd rather watch the parade from home, you can stream it from the city of Valdosta's Facebook page or on the city government channel.