OCEANSIDE — The Oceanside Independence Parade, which attracts thousands of onlookers and participants each year, has been canceled this summer.
The MainStreet Oceanside Independence Parade Committee announced the parade’s cancellation on May 6. The parade is usually held on the Saturday prior to July 4 and was scheduled this year for June 27.
According to Parade Committee Chair Cathy Nykiel, the committee based its decision mostly around the restrictions on mass gatherings due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nykiel said the parade attracts between 12,000 and 20,000 people who watch the parade. The parade, which usually lasts longer than two hours, has between 120 and 140 participating groups, and each of those group sizes can vary between 5 and 125 people per group. There are also 100 volunteers who help with the parade each year.
“Everything is kind of focused around group gatherings,” Nykiel said. “We want to comply and make sure everyone is safe and well.”
The parade committee has discussed alternatives to the parade, such as a community parade sometime in the future, but how and when such a parade would take place will be determined by the pandemic while stay-at-home orders are still in place.
The Oceanside Independence Parade has been a local tradition since 1892.
MainStreet Oceanside has also had to close its weekly Farmers Market and the Sunset Market as well in response to COVID-19.
Nykiel said MainStreet has been working with the city to come up with a safe alternative to the Farmers Market. MainStreet also created a “virtual Sunset Market” webpage that lists the market’s vendors and provides their contact information so customers can reach out.
MainStreet Oceanside has also started an Oceanside Strong Campaign that is raising money to provide downtown businesses “microgrants” between $250 and $1,000 to assist with utility bill payments and other smaller items that come up. Nykiel said the goal is to raise between $25,000 and $30,000 for that campaign.
Samantha Nelson covers Oceanside, Camp Pendleton and the decommissioning San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. She earned her journalism degree from the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University, and has previously reported for The Athens Messenger in Athens, Ohio, and USA Today in McLean, Virginia. Follow her on Twitter: @samm1son