YOUNGSVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) – The Franklin County Health Department said it will use a public health hazard abatement order to stop the Youngsville Christmas Parade unless organizers alter the event’s plan to comply with state orders.
A Nov. 25 email from Franklin County Health Director Scott LaVigne to Youngsville Town Administrator Phillip Cordeiro says the department advises Youngsville to cancel the Dec. 5 town-sponsored parade due to the pandemic.
Parade organizers would need to submit altered plans so the parade would comply with guidance from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services on such events.
Part of NCDHHS’ parade guidance is a max number of 50 spectators for a parade.
On Tuesday on Facebook, the Town of Youngsville announced it would proceed with the parade despite county and state health officials advising them to cancel.
In a Facebook post, Mayor Fonzie Flowers and the board of commissioners announced the annual Christmas parade will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday.
“We would also like to share we have consulted with the Franklin County Health Department and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, and will incorporate a variety of COVID-19 mitigation measures into our parade operations plan,” the post said.
Overwhelming support for the parade helped town officials decide to proceed even though they said county and state health officials advised them not to.
In LaVigne’s Nov. 25 email, he said the county health department would invoke a Public Health Imminent Hazard Abatement Order to stop the parade unless the event comes into compliance with state health orders.
On Wednesday, LaVigne sent another email to Cordeiro asking for the Town of Youngsville to either cancel the parade or “significantly alter it.”
LaVigne said the county health department wants certain information from the town – including an estimate of the number of spectators, a list of participants, and a plan for how spectators will wear masks.
A separate plan is needed from organizers about how the Town will protect participants and spectators.
“We would once again call-upon the Town of Youngsville to cancel or significantly alter this Town-Sponsored event,” LaVigne wrote.
The requested plans have a submission deadline of 5 p.m. Thursday.
Sheriff Kent Winstead and County Manager Kim Denton are copied on both emails.
Winstead told CBS 17 it would be up to Youngsville police to enforce an executive orders.
Dr. Philip Meador, chairman of the Franklin County Board of Health, is included on the Dec. 2 email.
Brandi Dennison, owner of Brandi’s Botanicals, said she usually participates in the annual parade.
Her shop is on the parade route but she has decided to close her shop this year.
“I myself was a little nervous about it especially about the people that want to come in and don’t want to wear a mask,” she said.
She thinks canceling this year’s parade would be the smart move.
“Of course the executive order would say to cancel so I understand we’re kind of breaking the law. I just hope everybody wears a mask and they stay far enough apart and respect each other,” she said.
On the other side of the debate is Youngsville resident Jayson Schmitt.
“I think the parade should go on. It’s up to people to distance themselves,” he said. “People who are immune compromised should stay home. But if you’re a health individual and you want to enjoy the lights and festivities, I say go for it.”
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