Children ride a brightly lit float in the 2019 Santa Maria Parade of Lights.
Children ride a brightly lit float in the 2019 Santa Maria Parade of Lights holiday procession. The 2020 version of the event has been canceled due to COVID-19 concerns. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

The Santa Maria Parade of Lights holiday procession won’t occur in 2020 due to COVID-19 concerns. 

“This year would have marked our 26th year of hosting the event,” said parade Co-Chair Mike Gibson, “and we are profoundly disappointed that we had to take this action in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.”  

The four Rotary Clubs of Santa Maria and Nipomo traditionally organize the event, which is held the first Saturday night of December with more than 100 entries covered in lights and Christmas spirit.

Rotarians in the four clubs hope to once again host the event next year on Dec. 4, 2021, after the pandemic issues are resolved and people can gather once again.  

“What makes this so disappointing is that if there ever was a year the community needed this event to kick of the holiday season, 2020 was the year,” Gibson added.  

In addition to the parade, the procession also has served as a canned food drive for the Salvation Army, with participants and spectators urged to donate non-perishable foods. Rotarians pushed shopping carts along the route to collection donations.

Rotarians stepped up to save the parade in the mid-1990s after the prior organizers backed out of organizing the event.

The local Rotary Clubs are among more than 35,000 across the globe boasting 1.2 members in 200 countries focused on service both locally and internationally. 

Members of the community can apply to be in the 2021 parade commencing in early October 2021 through the parade’s website, available by clicking here.  

Since March, multiple parades, festivals, rodeos and fairs in Santa Barbara County have been cancelled due to restrictions related to COVID-19.

When the Santa Maria Elks Rodeo canceled its postponed event, organizers announced plans to hold a drive-through Christmas-themed light show this year.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.