Missoula's 2020 "reverse" Parade of Lights sounded like a fun pandemic solution to gathering for a parade, but it was quite the opposite for kids who waited in line for hours, only to be told the parade was over. The parade was advertised as being open from 5 to 8 p.m. this past Saturday night, and it was. But families who sat in a line of cars on the Madison Street bridge or 6th street, literally for hours, thought maybe the parade would stay open longer since they waited so long to access Campus Drive. That was not the case as the entrance and exit were blocked promptly at 8 p.m.

The main problem, in my opinion, was zero direction or control of traffic. The Missoula Downtown Association had to have anticipated hundreds of cars coming out to drive through the parade, as the actual parade in non-pandemic years brings out thousands of spectators. They did not plan for this as vehicles that were not trying to get to the parade were blocked from going anywhere on 6th street, and those who were waiting for several hours to enjoy the parade continually got cut off by cars entering on Orange and Higgins. The Missoula Downtown Association did respond to community disappointment, you can see their post below. It's tough to hold an event in 2020, I get that, I appreciate that they tried, but knowing there were miles of cars waiting to get in and closing the gates anyway was kind of weak.

On a positive note, there were some businesses who felt the spirit of the season and stuck around to enthusiastically wave and call out "Merry Christmas" to kids in cars that managed to get through after 8 p.m. The University of Montana Cheerleaders (I think, they had pompoms and were shouting out positivity to spectators), Republic Services, Pepsi, Neptune Aviation, Missoula Paddleheads, and a very tropical Frame of Mind. Thank you to these businesses for suffering the cold and staying on to provide some fun for the kids who sat in cars for hours in anticipation of some holiday fun.

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