The annual parade of cars, dancers and entertainers will not be winding through the streets of Sterling and Rock Falls this September.
Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Sauk Valley Area Chamber of Commerce is canceling the fiesta parade.
The parade, which celebrated its 67th year last year, would have been held on Sept. 12.
"As a community organization, we would hate for something to happen, an outbreak or something," Sauk Valley Area Chamber of Commerce Director Kris Noble said Tuesday. "All these people gathered, probably nothing would happen, but I don't know that we want to take that chance right now."
Gov. JB Pritzker's Restore Illinois plan entered Phase 4 last week, allowing gatherings of up to 50 people, but there is no guarantee that limit will be raised any further by September. The parade typically draws thousands of spectators to the area.
"Even if they said tomorrow that there's a vaccine, we don't want to put the safety and health of the whole community at risk," Noble said. "We have to follow the guidelines. Do I wish we could have larger gatherings? Yes. I believe we could safely do that, but I still don't know if 2,000 people in downtown Sterling and Rock Falls would be a safe answer less than 2 months away."
Even if the limit on gatherings is raised, it likely wouldn't be high enough to allow an event this big, said Noble, who spoke with other chambers around the state and discovered that there are no large community events happening this summer.
Sept.12-19 will be Fiesta Week, and the Hispanic Business Leaders Committee is planning events and projects to celebrate, as well as to promote Hispanic-owned businesses.
There might also still be some recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month and Sept. 16, which is Mexico's Independence Day.
"We're going to, through that week, do some type of campaign, maybe share your best Fiesta Parade memory," Noble said. "Those things can get families to share some memories."
For more local news, visit SaukValley.com at https://www.saukvalley.com.