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Annual Christmas parade cancelled due to COVID concerns
City, Fairgrounds to provide drive-thru spectacle
35th Annual Turlock Christmas Parade

For the first time in the event’s 40-plus year history, the City’s annual Christmas Parade in downtown Turlock has been cancelled.

The beloved community tradition is just one of many to fall victim to COVID-19 cancellations this year, including the Fourth of July Parade and Stanislaus County Fair. According to Parks, Recreation and Public Facilities Director Allison Van Guilder, the anticipated crowd of 20,000 who pack Main Street for the event every year pose too much of a risk when it comes to curbing the spread of the virus.

The 42nd annual Christmas Parade was originally scheduled for Dec. 4, she added, and City officials don’t anticipate the State permitting large gatherings in Stanislaus County by that time based on the area’s current tiered status.

“Due to the large scale event and the advanced public safety planning that is required, it was not possible to delay the decision any longer. In a typical year, planning would have already begun and entries would start being accepted on Oct. 1,” Van Guilder said.

“We are not unlike many other communities who have made the difficult decision to cancel their parades and other holiday events as a result of COVID restrictions.”

Since the first downtown parade was held over 40 years ago, it has never been cancelled, to the City’s knowledge.

“We hope that once the pandemic has ended, we will never have to cancel another Christmas Parade again,” Van Guilder said.

Last year, the 41st annual Christmas Parade was arcade-themed and saw classic games like Pac-Mac, Whack-A -Mole (or Whack-A-Crowell, as the elementary school renamed the game) and Mario Brothers all make appearances on floats.

The City of Turlock’s Recreation Department and the Turlock Firefighters Local 2434 once again sponsored the parade, but due to City budget cuts it wouldn’t have happened without the financial support of the Turlock Chamber of Commerce and the Turlock Downtown Property Owners Association.

The business organizations donated $6,000 to help fill the funding gap so the parade could go on with the needed traffic and public safety personnel.

This year, the City will be offering a different way for families to experience Christmas in lieu of a parade. Together with the Stanislaus County Fair, the City is hosting “Christmas Cruise: A Night of Lights on Display.” The event is being sponsored by the Turlock Firefighters Local 2434 and will give community members the chance to cruise through the fairgrounds and take in an enchanting display of lights.

“We understand the community’s frustration with the Christmas Parade and many other events being canceled by COVID. The City shares in the disappointment but must adhere to the guidelines set forth by the State and the CDC. We also understand the community is eager to have positive events and activities to participate in despite our challenges with COVID,” Van Guilder said, adding that the Christmas Cruise is their way of helping the community celebrate Christmas in a fun and safe manner.

Businesses, groups and families are invited to register and set up a stationary display along the cruise route, and there is a limited amount of space available. Those interested can register for $65 from Oct. 12 through Oct. 31 by visiting There will also be late registration for $90 from Nov. 1 through 7.

Christmas Cruise: A Night of Lights on Display will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.Dec. 4 at the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds. For more information, call 209-668-5594, email or keep an eye on the City Recreation Department’s social media pages for more information