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Many of Idaho's holiday events going virtual again for 2021

The Boise Holiday Parade will be a virtual event, "to keep the parade in the minds of the people, for another year."

BOISE, Idaho — It is the time of year when event organizers around the Treasure Valley put the finishing touches on celebrations for three big holidays - Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

However, in 2021, much like in 2020, many of those events will be virtual due to concerns about the spread of COVID-19.

For the second year in a row, crowds won't gather downtown for the Boise Holiday Parade.

"You know, it's sad, because we had been planning it, and it takes nine months," said Roger Lingle, the president of the Boise Holiday Parade Association. 

Instead, the Boise Holiday Parade will be a virtual event, "to keep the parade in the minds of the people, for another year," Lingle said.

However, that's not the case for the 5k Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot in Boise. The 5K will have a virtual option but will take their runs live in person in not one but two locations this year, adding a Caldwell Turkey Trot.

"Just everything that I have seen and all the experts that I have talked to, the risks with outdoor events is so minimal," said Keith Hughes, the executive director of the event. 

Although the CDC says outdoor activities are safer than events in crowded, indoor spaces, the turkey trot is within city limits, which means they will need to adhere to the city's covid protocols. By checking for vaccination proof, or a negative covid test prior to the event and having all participants fully masked until they start the race.

"Most small event companies aren't legally set up to handle peoples personal medical information so when we are collecting covid vaccine information, the covid tests results we have to hire a third party, and outside company that is licensed to handle that data," Hughes said.

In addition to the extra expense, Hughes added that event is taking another hit, by the low levels of registered runners.

"The biggest thing we get is 'I would love to do the event but it's such a hassle having to find my covid vaccine, scan it, upload it,' it's just a hassle for people, so people are just skipping events," he said. 

Hughes expects to see registration anywhere from 30-55 percent below normal.

"Turkey day is typically large enough that we can absorb that and still survive but just with the restrictions in place we are anticipating a fairly large loss on this event this year," Hughes said. 

Maria Weeg, the director of community engagement for the city of Boise told KTVB that the city is sticking with the protocols that they placed for large events back in September, so long as medical experts continue to tell them to.

"I know that's frustrating but we have to be in this together and really do the things that we know work, vaccines work, masking works, physical distancing works, all of those things work if we saw more people doing that more diligently we'd be a lot closer to this pandemic being over," Weeg said.

She added that most event organizers like Lingle, are not opting to go virtual because of the city's protocols, but rather because they feel like it's the best decision for the sake of their community.

"Bringing people downtown might not be the best thing to do with all the hospital rooms at capacity," Lingle said. "Even though we are sad about not having the parade in person, we just know it's the right thing to do."

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