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Philadelphia Cancels All Large Events Through February 2021 Due To COVID-19 Risks

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Some of Philadelphia's most iconic events, including the Thanksgiving Day and Mummers Parades, are canceled this year due to the coronavirus. All large public events in Philadelphia have been canceled until February 2021 due to COVID-19 risks.

All public events of 50 people or more through Feb. 28, 2021 will be canceled. That includes the Broad Street Run, the Philadelphia Marathon, the Thanksgiving Day Parade and the Mummers Parade.

City leaders acknowledged canceling these big events the city is known for is a bold decision, but they insist it's needed to slow the spread of COVID-19.

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Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley made the decision after seeing COVID spikes in some states he says reopened too quickly.

Plus, a lesson was learned from 1918, when Philadelphia held a World War I parade despite the Spanish Flu pandemic. Thousands of parade-watchers were later infected.

philadelphia world war 1 parade
Credit: CBS3

"The failure to cancel that parade way back in 1918 is still in the memory of everyone in public health," Farley said. "The whole idea of canceling big events in a pandemic like this makes a lot of sense."

The Mummers Parade has only been canceled twice before -- once in 1919 in the aftermath of World War I and then in 1934, during the Great Depression. In that case, many still marched but not competitively.

This Jan. 1 will come with no marching.

In the yard of a home in Mickleton, Gloucester County, the Woodland String Band held their first practice since March.

"We usually have about 60, 65 guys get together inside our club on South 3rd Street but right now, we can't even go inside the club," said Tom Loomis, former president of Philadelphia Mummers String Band Association.

They practice knowing full well their big show in January won't go on. For these mummers, canceling the parade for just the third time in its 120-year history is a shame but understandable.

And above all, it's not a reason to stop playing.

"You see what's happening down south and out west, it's just not safe. It's the right decision," Loomis said.

The Broad Street Run was originally scheduled for May but had been rescheduled for Oct. 4. Organizers say they have decided to make it a virtual run as city officials have canceled all large public events.

"So all the runners will be able to run their 10 miles in the comfort of their own neighborhood or go to their local running spot and that way they'll be able to get their shirts and medals and finisher's certificate and all that," said Leo Dignam, executive director of the Blue Cross Broad Street Run.

Refunds are not being offered to runners and they cannot transfer their fees to next year. Runners will be offered a 20% registration discount for the 2021 Broad Street Run.

Runners will receive a t-shirt, digital bib, finisher's medal, hand sanitizer and guaranteed entry into the 2021 Broad Street Run.

Philadelphia Marathon organizers say runners have the option to defer their participation, receive a refund, or donate the money to the American Association for Cancer Research.

This is another blow to hotels, airlines and others in the tourism industry. Photographers that rely on events are being hit hard by the pandemic too.

Philadelphia officials reported about 143 coronavirus cases Tuesday afternoon, bringing the citywide total to 27,723.

There were also another six COVID-19-related deaths. The city's death toll now stands at 1,637.

CBS3's Matt Petrillo and Alexandria Hoff contributed to this report.

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