The 2020 White Elephant Parade scheduled for October has been canceled, and a decision will come in the next three weeks about when to reopen the thrift store.
Ivars Vecbastiks, president of the White Elephant board, said uncertainty surrounding coronavirus and the time it takes to pull the parade together led to the decision Monday.
“We do believe that social distancing will be in effect at that time and, as you know, we attract quite a few people and they tend to bunch together,” he said. “So for their safety as well as for ours, we thought it was most judicious not to have it this year.”
Uncertainty with school schedules — the source of parade bands — and the tight timeframe to get county permits also played into the decision.
This is the third time the White Elephant Parade has been canceled since launching in the 1960s. It was canceled in 1965 after ownership of the East Social Center — then the site of the country fair part of the event — changed hands. The parade was rained out in 1973.
Last October’s 55th annual parade drew more than 100 entries as it headed down La Canada Drive.
Vecbastiks said they had chosen a grand marshal but had not released the name.
The White Elephant Thrift Store closed and stopped taking donations March 16. What could amount to a three-month closure will have an effect on its check distributions to local groups later this year, Vecbastiks said.
“It’s going to be a significant reduction in what we’ll be able to distribute,” he said. They are saving some money by not holding the parade, but it will still be a big hit. Last year, the White Elephant gave out $1.7 million to dozens of groups, including $150,000 for scholarships.
Reopening the thrift store hinges on the 600 volunteers who run the operation — from sorting to collecting to selling items.
“Most of them are elderly and hesitant about returning to work,” Vecbastiks said.
He said work is under way to increase separation in the shopping area and they are working on other protocols. He said they will not pick up donations before the store opens.
“Everything will open on the same day,” he said.