YOUNGSVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) — The Town of Youngsville ignored advice from state and county health officials and held its annual Christmas parade on Saturday.
Hundreds of people attended the parade, many crowded to watch along West Main Street’s narrow sidewalks.
“There’s numerous things that are allowed and they can go out and protest and they don’t wear masks, and why can’t a parade go on?” said Beverly Baker, who attended the parade with her family.
The outdoor parade violates Gov. Roy Cooper’s executive order on gatherings.
The Franklin County Health Department asked the town to cancel or alter the parade, but Youngsville Mayor Fonzie Flowers opted to have it anyway.
In a video posted on Facebook, Flowers said the parade would have “a positive impact on the mental health and well-being of the community.”
“I don’t think I’ve smiled that big in a really long time,” said Ashlyn Hills. “It really made you feel the Christmas spirit and what it’s all about.”
Lindsay Newton added, “I teach kids every single day, so to see these little kids out here just laughing and having a good time, they don’t understand what the concept of this pandemic is.”
The mayor insisted the parade could be done safely. He asked families to space out six feet and wear masks, but it was apparent that many people did not.
Newton told CBS 17 she lives along the parade route, and took it upon herself to call people out who did not comply.
She explained, “The mask thing, I was yelling out here ‘put your mask on’.”
Leighanne Hills told CBS17 she and her daughter followed the mayor’s suggestions to wear masks and stay in their family “bubble.”
“I just think it was awesome to definitely have the Christmas spirit and to just give us joy and hope in the season,” Hills said.
While the parade lifted people’s spirits during the pandemic, the director of the Franklin County Health Department warned that a mass gathering such as the parade could come at a cost.
“We are already in a surge,” Franklin County Health Department Director Scott LaVigne said. “We’re already experiencing a surge post-Thanksgiving that we have just started to see, and that’s on top of it.”