The annual Christmas City of the North Parade will go on, according to its organizers, but you're not invited.
KBJR-TV, keepers of the more-than-60-year-old event, is asking spectators to stay home and watch the broadcast on television when it airs at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 20.
KBJR station manager Dave Jensch apologized, as he knows thousands of people like to watch it in person.
"But to be safe, it has to happen," he said. "We're pleased to bring a sense of normalcy, the TV broadcast, to the people craving events."
There are other global pandemic-inspired changes to this year's parade: the TV station has temporarily shifted the route, has asked groups to limit the number of participants and is prerecording some of the larger groups, such as marching bands and dance studios.
Smaller units like the one from Arco Coffee Co., and The Owls Club, will float on — while masked and maintaining distance.
This year's parade will run from Pier B Resort Hotel, behind the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center, to the William A. Irvin — not only a new location, but also a shorter route. The area will be blocked off to keep spectators at bay.
Organizers have been working on a revamped event since August, Jensch said, and have taken cues from the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and other parades produced by TV stations. They've already begun pre-recording parts of it.
"Here's our thing: The Christmas City of the North Parade is all about the kids," Jensch said. "One of our priorities is to make sure every young person gets on TV."
Pre-recording is making that easier to accomplish, since camera operators can move in and out of the formations and get closer to the participants.
So the tradition of trying to spot favorite faces in the crowd will go on. But: "If your tradition is to get on Superior Street, get some hot chocolate and see it live," Jensch said, "we ask you to wait until next year."