MCCALL, Idaho — The McCall Area Chamber is canceling its annual Mardi Gras Parade due to the surge in COVID-19 cases, but will move ahead with other elements of the McCall Winter Carnival, including the popular ice sculpture displays.
"With Omicron spreading so rapidly we just had to eliminate some of those events that really put the big crowds all in one spot and the parade is that.," said McKenzie Kraemer, Director of Marketing for McCall Chamber.
More than 60,000 people typically travel to McCall for the carnival, which was canceled last year due to the pandemic.
This year's McCall Winter Carnival, with a theme of "Return to our Roots," is set to run from Friday, Jan. 28 through Sunday, Feb. 6.
Kraemer said organizers have been working with the city, health officials, public safety, and local business to figure out the best way to move forward. The parade was scrapped over concerns about it drawing large crowds to one location.
"The Mardi Gras Parade is a huge undertaking for our community. Many agencies work together to coordinate, close the highway, and direct traffic, among other things. Unfortunately, with the omicron surge peaking, we don't have the resources to spare," she said.
"If you are coming to Carnival, then you know how special this event is," she said. "We are working hard to honor the tradition of Carnival while prioritizing health and safety in an everchanging pandemic." Carnival-goers can expect to enjoy snow sculptures, vendors, main stage music, fireworks, family fun, outdoor recreation, and the traditional small-town charm of McCall."
Carnival attendees are asked to wear masks in crowded spaces, physically distance when possible, and stay home if feeling sick. Visitors are also asked to be respectful to local businesses, some of which may have reduced hours or low staff during the carnival.
"At its core, Winter Carnival was started to get people outside, break the cabin fever, and build community," Kraemer said. "This is exactly what you will find this year, and a great way to celebrate the spirit of this event is by returning to our roots."
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