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Marching on during pandemic

In this year of COVID-19 shutdowns and limitations, Friday’s Downtown Warren Christmas Walk and Parade is just the latest example of finding new ways to preserve our longest-held and dearest community traditions.

The event will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday. The parade won’t be our traditional parade.

Businesses and non-profits have decorated shoe boxes that will be dragged along a snowy, indoor “road” at the Warren County Chamber of Business and Industry, filmed and then played on Facebook as well as on a large blow-up screen downtown during the Christmas Walk. Commentating will be in the familiar voices of Mark Silvis and Dale Bliss, whose voices are as much a tradition as the parade itself.

If you choose to come downtown for the Christmas Walk, consider bringing a toy to donate to Toys For Tots. The walk is up to individual discretion.

Businesses will adhere to COVID-19 guidelines, including but not limited to wearing a mask, sanitizing and staying six feet apart. Booths and vendors set to participate include Warren County Christian School, SADD, Relay for Life, Boy Scouts selling chestnuts, mini-doughnuts by Tony Seriola and the Lions Club food wagon.

Santa is set to make an appearance Sunday at Liberty Street and Pennsylvania Avenue. Children won’t be able to sit in Santa’s lap but organizers hope to find a way for photos to be taken with Santa at a distance.

A mailbox for Letters to Santa will be set up at the PNC Bank Building lobby and the Northern Pennsylvania Regional College is going to provide a table and supplies for kids who want to write their letter that night. After Friday’s Christmas Walk, the mailbox will move to the Warren County Chamber of Business & Industry headquarters until Dec. 21. The completed shoeboxes from the parade will be on display at McKissock Learning, who is partnering with Jeff Bartsch for a mini light show with the Grinch.

Many cities have canceled their parades, and that’s truly a shame. Give credit, then, to the Warren County Chamber of Business and Industry for finding a way to keep this tradition alive in any way, shape or form allowed by this pandemic.

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