Sherwood's annual Holiday Festival & Parade has been canceled due to the ongoing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The event, which was originally planned for Saturday, Dec. 5, is a tradition sponsored by the Robin Hood Festival Association. The festive occasion traditionally brings bands, floats and Santa Claus down Southwest Sherwood Boulevard and into Old Town Sherwood — amid showers of candy thrown to bystanders by those on floats — in anticipation of the annual tree-lighting ceremony.
Ron Groeger Jr., Sherwood Robin Hood Festival Association president, said the cancellation is especially disappointing for the members of the Maid Marian Court, who traditionally participate in a number of activities during the event ,including the parade.
The court previously had to cancel all its events in June because the Robin Hood Festival was canceled as well due to the ongoing pandemic.
"We're coping, like everyone else," Groeger said. "Hopefully we get some sort of end to this COVID-19."
While the details of a city sponsored tree-lighting are still up in the air, Sherwood City Manger Joe Gall said he and Groeger will meet Thursday to discuss what types of activities might be possible to "lift people's spirts."
"We're going to get a tree and probably do some type of virtual tree-lighting event," said Gall. "We just can't have crowds."
Ideally, Groeger said that will include having Maid Marian and Santa Claus light the tree, with plans to record the event so that everyone can watch it online.
"We're going to do it at a time no one's expecting it to get lit, so that way, we don't create any crowds by accident," said Groeger.
A Holiday Food Drive to benefit local food pantries is set for Dec. 5, from noon to 2 p.m., at Cannery Square Plaza.
The association conducted a similar drive during the canceled Robin Hood Festival and collected an estimated 1,400 pounds of food at that time, he said.
Sandy Wallace, a longtime Robin Hood Festival volunteer who coordinates the annual archery contest, said there has been some type of Sherwood holiday celebration since the mid-1980s, beginning when Ben Langston, then president of the association, brought a tree downtown with the help of his Clydesdale horses.
Before Cannery Square Plaza, the tree-lighting event was held in the old Robin Hood Theatre parking lot.
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