133rd Santa Claus Parade in Peoria continues tradition amid COVID-19

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Peoria is home to the longest continuous Santa Claus parade in the country and the tradition continued Friday, but it looked a bit different due to COVID-19.

If you ask someone from Peoria about the Santa Claus parade, most people would know exactly what you’re talking about.

“I’ve always attended the parade,” said Jennifer Waters who was in the parade.

That’s because it’s the longest running holiday parade in the country, a 133-year tradition.

“We were not going to break that tradition whether it was just him and I going down the street we were gonna have a parade,” said parade board member Susie Stockman

This year, the pandemic posed a unique problem. Thousands of people lining the streets would not follow social distancing guidelines, so leaders with the parade decided to switch the roles. People would drive by while the floats stayed stationary.

“It went really well, I mean, we had cars every few seconds go through, we figured about 800 to 1,000 cars,” said Stockman.

This was Jennifer Waters’s first time being in the parade, and even though it wasn’t how she anticipated, she said it was still great to see the community come out and support.

“This is a time to come together and show that even though we can’t walk in the parade, people can still attend, and the community knows that we need to keep it going,” said Waters.

Stockman couldn’t have been happier with the turnout.

“I was thrilled with how it went, I did not know how it was going to go I was very apprehensive about it but I was thrilled,” said Stockman.

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