2020 Ford Holiday River Parade canceled due to COVID-19, virtual activities planned

‘It gives us more time to plan for next year,’ River Walk association says

SAN ANTONIO – Plans for a downtown San Antonio holiday tradition have sunk this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The San Antonio River Walk Association and City of San Antonio on Tuesday announced the 2020 Ford Holiday River Parade will be canceled, but virtual activities will be available.

It had been scheduled for Friday, Nov. 27 — the day after Thanksgiving when the parade typically coincides with the annual H-E-B Tree Lighting Celebration. The events are San Antonio’s official kickoff to the holiday season.

It’s the first time in 40 years the twinkling holiday riverboats won’t be parading down the River Walk.

Maggie Thompson, the executive director of the San Antonio River Walk Association, said she and her team are devastated about having to cancel the event.

“They are very sad,” Thompson said. “We’ll regroup and we’ll have it bigger and better and it gives us more time to plan for next year.

She said they were forced to cancel it to avoid crowds gathering

“Even though it’s a River Parade they crowd, they congregate and they’re shoulder-to-shoulder three deep so it’s a really big concern,” Thompson said. “We want to keep San Antonio residents safe.”

It’s also a financial hit because the nonprofit says it brings in hundreds of thousands of dollars that help fund the majority of the 26 events the association hosts. Thompson said 90% of those events are free.

The association has set up a webpage to keep donations pouring into those events.

Thompson said virtual activities are expected to be rolled out.

Next year’s parade is slated for Friday, Nov. 26, 2021.

Also axed this year, the Rotary Ice Rink will not return to Travis Park due to the “uncertainty” of the pandemic.

About the Authors:

Rebecca Salinas has worked in digital news for more than 10 years and joined KSAT in 2019. She reports on a variety of topics for KSAT 12 News.

Sarah Acosta is a weekend Good Morning San Antonio anchor and a general assignments reporter at KSAT12. She joined the news team in April 2018 as a morning reporter for GMSA and is a native South Texan.