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Light up Ocala will possibly be canceled this year

Published: Oct. 9, 2020 at 4:23 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) -

Light up Ocala may not be a large social event like in years past and maybe canceled altogether.

Over the Light up Ocala weekend it’s estimated 25-30,000 people visit downtown Ocala for the holiday festivities, but those crowds may not be welcome this year.

Ocala’s Mayor Kent Guinn says although he doesn’t have a vote in the matter he wants the full event to take place.

“I think we should have it, it’s outdoors. I said in the council meeting if you want to come, come. If you don’t, don’t come. People are smart enough how to make their own healthcare choices.”

“It’s been around for several decades so it is a big deal to the city and we understand that,” said The City of Ocala’s Marketing and Communications Manager Ashley Dobbs. “We aren’t trying to diminish that for anybody we simply want to do what’s best.”

City council members originally took into account Governor DeSantis’s decision to not allow large outdoor gatherings, which this week was changed as the governor’s office clarified sporting events are allowed to go back to full capacity under phase 3 of the state reopening plan. Council members were leaning towards canceling Light up Ocala at the most recent meeting.

“Now that the fact he’s allowing that may change hopefully, the council’s decision,” said Mayor Guinn.

“Being able to safely social distance, spread out vendors,” Dobbs listed as criteria needed to hold the event. “Will they be able to encourage mask wearing? These are just some of the outlines they’re looking at.”

More than 300,000 lights themselves will still go up regardless of the council’s decision to allow the Light up Ocala event to take place.

“No matter what happens lights will still go up,” said Dobbs. “But the council wants to evaluate and see if the regularly scheduled Light up Ocala will go forward or if we’ll have smaller events families can come out and enjoy.”

The council will vote yes or no on October 20th.

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