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Creatively Re-Imagining Holiday Celebrations And Parades During A Pandemic

Written by
Rob Brittain
Published on
February 17, 2021 6:13:00 AM PST February 17, 2021 6:13:00 AM PSTth, February 17, 2021 6:13:00 AM PST

As Americans, we are inherently creatures of community and celebration. We cling tightly to holidays when we can gather with family and friends and experience the joy of togetherness. Yet, when the pandemic struck our country in Spring 2020, the future of many of our beloved holiday traditions became uncertain. The solution? American ingenuity. 


Drawing upon the age-old truth that “necessity is the mother of all invention,” Americans assumed the stance of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford as they began to tinker with and re-invent beloved holiday celebrations, this time with the all-important element of social distancing built into the equation. As we continue to re-imagine holidays in 2021, let us take a look at the inventive celebrations of 2020, and see how we might apply what we learned for our upcoming 2021 celebrations.

 

Finding Inspiration in the Recent Past

Recognizing the importance of holiday celebrations, Americans quickly arrived at the collective decision that cancelling 2020 holiday celebrations was not a viable option. We held firm to the belief that holidays provide hope for the future, help to mark the passage of time and foster both community and unity. Here is a snapshot of several creative ways that communities across America successfully re-imagined 2020 holidays celebrations:

  • Hosting Reverse Parades: Quickly realizing that community members could no longer gather in large groups along parade routes, organizers literally reverse-engineered the parade idea in the name of public safety. Known simply as a “reverse parade,” this new twist on a crowd-pleasing favorite called for parade floats to be parked on the side of a street and for “parade-goers” to enjoy the floats while driving by them from the comfort and the safety of their own cars. For Christmas 2020, scores of cities and towns, large and small, hosted reverse Christmas parades.
  • Family & Friends Car Parades: For celebrating milestone life events such as a birthday or high school graduation, family and friends often decorated their cars, gathered together to form a parade of cars and drove by homes of loved ones. As a complement to the signs and the decorations that adorned their cars, parade participants often played music, honked their horns and took a few moments to enjoy short visits with the honored person, all while remaining masked, staying inside their cars and maintaining social distance.
  • Giving Santa His Own Road Show: Instead of in-person visits with Santa during which children climbed onto Santa’s lap, 2020 found Santa catching a ride on the fire trucks of many cities and towns while firefighter “elves” paraded Santa through street after street so children of all ages could see jolly Santa from the comfort and the safety of their homes, driveways and cars.
  • Connecting with Family and Friends Through Videoconferencing: When Americans could no longer visit friends and family in person, they utilized apps such as Zoom and Skype to virtually visit with loved ones during important family holidays like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Technology provided a safe way to spend time with others. Many creative families even shared meals, played games and carried out holiday traditions virtually, placing a new, modern-day spin on the time-honored phrase of “separate, but together.”
  • Utilizing Street Banners to Honor Local Heroes: In lieu of in-person Memorial Day and Veterans Day ceremonies, several cities and towns chose to display street banners featuring the names and photos of local military heroes. Displaying the banners for three- to four-month showings (from Memorial Day through July 4th) allowed residents time to drive by, remember and honor hometown military heroes.
  • Harnessing the Connective Power of Media: From Facebook and Instagram Live posts to local and national broadcast media coverage, Americans depended upon media to connect them during 2020. Through coverage of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the socially-distanced New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square and the Inauguration of President Joe Biden in Washington, D.C., broadcast media allowed Americans to have a window on the world while enjoying the comfort and the safety of their homes. On the local level, hometown television and radio outlets, coupled with social media storytellers, helped Americans virtually experience re-imagined hometown parades, holiday light displays and smaller in-person celebrations that they might have otherwise missed.
  • Creating Thoughtful, Media-Friendly Visual Displays: Inauguration Day 2021’s massive field of flags, extraordinary fireworks display and thoughtful luminary memorial for the victims of COVID-19 all stand out as offering perhaps the most memorable visual displays during the recent past. Through these powerful visual displays, carefully crafted for broadcast distribution to millions, Americans were able to collectively, remotely and safely enjoy a shared experience while joining in from their technological device of choice.

 

Creative Adaptation Moving Forward in 2021

Borrowing from the lessons learned during 2020, here are a few creative ideas for re-imagining of our upcoming holiday celebrations through July 2021:

  • Lincoln’s Birthday (Feb. 12) & George Washington’s Birthday (Presidents Day) (Feb. 15): Fly your American flag. Or read a book, listen to a podcast or watch a video about George Washington, Abraham Lincoln or any past or present U.S. president.
  • St. Patrick’s Day (March 17): Fly a “Happy St. Patrick’s Day” 3’ x 5’ flag or garden flag. Ask your city leaders to temporarily add green dye to a prominent local fountain or body of water. Utilize green LED lighting to illuminate one or more of the tallest buildings in town. Wear festive costumes, makeup and green wigs and organize a reverse St. Patrick’s Day parade in which costumed participants remain in their cars. Award prizes such as virtual gift cards for the most creative costumes.
  • National Vietnam War Veterans Day (March 29): Display cemetery flags with a U.S. veteran or Vietnam War grave marker on veterans’ gravesites. Fly a Vietnam Veterans flag or Vietnam Insignia flag. Add an “I Support Vietnam Veterans” overlay to your Facebook profile photo by clicking here. Visit the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Fund Facebook page March 29 at 1 p.m. EST to experience a live service of thanks and remembrance.
  • Easter (April 4): Display a religious flag as part of your Easter celebration. Use colored or custom flags to bring attention to your business or celebration. Invite the Easter Bunny to follow Santa’s lead and hitch a ride on your city or your town’s fire truck for a socially-distanced roadshow. Organize a neighborhood or local reverse parade where entrants decorate their cars like Easter eggs, and award prizes for the most creative parade entries.
  • Army Day (April 6): Fly an Army flag. Encourage your local city officials to display “We Support our Army” street banners. Post a photo of your favorite soldier, past or present, on your social media platform of choice.
  • National Former Prisoner of War Recognition Day (April 9): Honor the lives of former prisoners of war by flying a POW/MIA flag or creating and displaying custom street banners that feature the names and photos of local residents who have served in the military. Add the hashtag #FormerPOWRecognitionDay to any social media posts about former prisoners of war on April 9.
  • Earth Day (April 22): Fly an Earth flag. Plant a tree. Implement a new, home recycling regimen. Build a bee nesting box (or house). Make plans for a vegetable or flower garden.
  • Military Appreciation Month (May): Fly a “Support Our Troops” flag or encourage your city officials to hang “Support Our Troops” street banners Put up your patriotic décor. Throughout the entire month of May, consider celebrating Military Appreciation Month by:
  • Flying your American flag
  • Honoring the lives of military service members past and present by creating and displaying custom street banners that feature the names and photos of local military heroes
  • Paying tribute to friends and family members who either have served or are currently serving in a branch of the military by posting their photos and their stories of service on social media
  • Writing “thank you” notes to active duty or retired U.S. military service members
  • Donating blood
  • College Graduations (May): Create and display custom yard signs that feature the names and the photos of 2021 college graduates. Display the graduate’s school flag. Offer gifts of handwritten notes or photo collages as ways of celebrating and congratulating graduates. Also consider organizing family-and-friends car parades to celebrate college graduates.
  • International Firefighters’ Day (May 4): Fly your American flag or display a firefighter flag to show your appreciation for their service. Place cemetery flags or grave markers on firefighters’ graves. Write “thank you” notes to local firefighters. As either a family or a neighborhood, adopt a local fire station and honor the firefighters by delivering either baked goods or gift cards to nearby restaurants.
  • Victory in Europe (V-E) Day (May 8): Fly your American flag. Watch the online V-E Day wreath-laying ceremony that will take place in Belgium. Watch the remembrance flyovers that are scheduled throughout the U.S. over veteran cemeteries and WWII memorials.
  • Armed Forces Day (May 15): Fly your American flag. Or display one or all military branch flags. As time allows, complete any of the other activities described in the “Military Appreciation Month” section above.
  • Peace Officers Memorial Day (May 15): Fly your American flag at half staff as a way of honoring law enforcement officers who lost their lives while serving their communities. Display a police officer or sheriff flag to show your appreciation for their service. Reach out to the family members of any local, fallen law enforcement officers and extend your thanks and appreciation for their loved ones’ sacrifice. Place cemetery flags or grave markers on peace officers’ graves.
  • Memorial Day (May 31): Fly your U.S. flag at half staff until noon and then full staff until sunset. Fly your POW/MIA flag at half staff from sunrise to sunset. Place cemetery flags or grave markers on veterans’ graves. Watch the National Memorial Day Concert that airs nationally on PBS at 8 p.m. on the eve of Memorial Day. Watch local and national online wreath-laying ceremonies on Memorial Day. Pay tribute to the veterans in your life by posting their photos and your reflections about their service and their sacrifice on social media.
  • High School Graduations (June): Create and display custom yard signs or a displaying custom street banners featuring the names and the photos of high school graduates. Offer gifts of handwritten notes or photo collages as ways of celebrating and congratulating graduates. Also consider organizing family-and-friends car parades to celebrate the high school graduates.
  • Remember D-Day (June 6): Fly your American flag at half-mast as a way of honoring the military heroes who lost their lives on the beaches of Normandy. Explore the website of the National World War II Museum in New Orleans. Immerse yourself in the history of the day by watching a movie such as “Saving Private Ryan” or the HBO miniseries “Band or Brothers.”
  • Army Birthday (June 14): Fly an Army flag. Encourage your local city officials to display “We Support our Army” street banners. Honor your favorite soldier, past or present, by posting the soldier’s photo and story on social media.
  • Flag Day (June 14): Hoist your own American flag at your home or encourage your local city or town to borrow a page from the 2021 Inauguration Day and create a unique flag display, similar to those displayed on Washington, D.C.’s National Mall, that can be enjoyed either by car or by local broadcast media.
  • Independence Day (July 4): Fly your American flag and put up your patriotic décor. Encourage city officials to put up patriotic street banners. Reread the “Declaration of Independence.” Wear red, white and blue. Listen to patriotic music. Watch local fireworks displays from the comfort and the safety of your vehicle or enjoy national broadcasts of fireworks displays from the comfort and the safety of your home. Enjoy a socially-distant, outdoor meal with immediate family members or those who are in your “bubble of health and safety.” Organize a neighborhood or local reverse parade where entrants decorate their cars in patriotic décor, and award prizes for the most creative parade entries.
  • National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day (July 27): Fly your American flag. Display cemetery flags with a U.S. veteran or Korean War grave marker on veterans’ gravesites. Explore the Library of Congress’s online Veteran’s History Project to learn more about the experience of Korean War Veterans in their own words. Read a book about the Korean War or watch episodes of the “M*A*S*H” TV series to immerse yourself in the history of the war.


Complementing your celebrations with decorations is a great way to add to a fun, festive flair to your holidays. Should you need street banners, patriotic decorations or flags (American flags, military flags, state flags or city flags) or flagpoles for your upcoming 2021 celebrations, Carrot-Top Industries can provide you with the products you need to safely and creatively reimagine your upcoming holiday celebrations. Please call 800-628-3524 to speak with a Carrot-Top Customer Care Professional if you need assistance with your order. You may also submit questions about your order by email or schedule a convenient time for a consultation through Contact Our Team. Carrot-Top offers fast shipping on all in-stock products.


By embracing our great American ingenuity in 2021 and beyond, we will continue to collectively overcome the challenges we face as well as maintain the shared celebrations that make us uniquely American.


Online Resources: HolidayCalendar.com, MilitaryBenefits.info, PBS.org, timeanddate.com, WCTI NewsChannel 12, WRAL.com


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