About 30,000 people were expected at Austin’s Veteran Day Parade but the event was canceled due to Austin’s rigid Coronavirus restrictions.
"The City of Austin's overreaching COVID requirements have forced the Austin Veterans Parade Foundation to cancel their annual event," the Republican governor tweeted Tuesday. "I'm inviting them to host a rally on the south steps of the Texas State Capitol. We celebrate our nation's heroes in Texas."
"This is something that we could not do as we anticipated some 30,000 attendees to the parade," the parade organizers said in a statement. "We are hopeful that in 2022, the restrictions on public gatherings will be back to normal. In lue of the parade, we are working with the City of Austin and the Austin Veterans Commission to dedicate the Veterans Park on Nov. 11th."
In a statement, Governor Abbott added the City:
“Placed an undue burden on large events like the 2021 Veterans Day Parade.”
The Veteran organizer declined the Governor's request. He said they had an event confirmed at Austin’s Veterans Pocket Park at 9:30 am.
The organization said:
"The Veterans Park will be the only event that the Austin Veterans Parade Foundation will be involved in this year. It is our hope that we can have our Veterans Day parade and celebration next year and that everyone will stay safe on this Veterans Day!"
Texas has a large number of Veterans. The Census Bureau data from 2020 show approximately 1.4 million military veterans live in the state of Texas. This represents 6.8% of the state’s overall population. In 2019, Austin had 36,094 Veterans who lived in the City according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
The canceled event angered some Veterans
The head of the Wind Therapy Motorcycle Freedom Riders, Luis Rodriguez, told Axios::
"It's a slap in the face to those who served. It's for an open air parade. They allowed Formula 1 to go ahead, and that had five times the number of people as the Super Bowl. They did nothing to shut that down. They’re playing politics with the honor of veterans and those who have served this country."
Did COVID cancel the parade?
The City of Austin provided Fox the following statement:
"Every year, Austin Center for Events (ACE) works with the Austin Veterans Parade Foundation, the event organizers of the Veterans Parade, as they plan for this important event to honor the American heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice for our great country.
Over the summer, we proactively reached out to the event organizer to work through the event permitting process and help them understand health mitigation requirements for special events. The organizers did not submit a COVID-19 Health & Safety form to Austin Public Health for review. On September 28th, the organizers notified ACE that they decided to cancel the event citing the health requirements for an event with 30,000 attendees. At this time, Austin was in Stage 4 of the Risk Based Guidelines and the region had 25 ICU beds left to serve millions of Central Texans.
Conduct screening of all attendees including but not limited to requiring proof of a negative COVID-19 test result within 72 hours of entering an event.
- Develop strategies for maintaining at least 6 feet of social distancing.
- Include "mask zones" in outdoor event areas where social distancing is not possible.
You can read the full statement here.
Do you think Austin should have allowed the parade to continue?