The city of San Juan held a news conference Wednesday to announce the cancellation of its annual Noche De Paz event.

The city’s decision to cancel the annual Christmas festival came as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Basically I made that call with the coronavirus still spreading rapidly among the community and affecting our neighbors, friends and loved ones,” San Juan Mayor Mario Garza said. “As the leader of our city, I was obligated to ensure that we’re taking every measure to prevent the spread in our community.”

The announcement comes on the same day that Hidalgo County confirmed 681 new cases of COVID-19, 21 of which were San Juan residents.

“The message that I have is to continue staying safe,” Garza said. “It’s very important that we follow the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidelines that our state and federal government are implementing. The numbers are rising, and I get these reports on a daily basis. It’s something scary. We need to take care of each other and follow the rules. Just practice the social distancing.”

In lieu of Noche De Paz, city officials announced they will be hosting a Christmas tree lighting event Dec. 1. The event will feature “The Tallest Christmas Tree in South Texas,” as well as one of the tallest Frosty the Snowman displays, among other festivities.

In order to adhere to social distancing guidelines, the event will be limited to roughly 100 attendees.

“The way that’s going to work is we’re going to make accommodations for the community, our citizens, to make it a drive-in style viewing of the lighting of the tree,” Garza said. “We’re going to have a radio station, which is Ultra 104.9 there live. Also the city of San Juan will have their own radio frequency to where our citizens can tune in from their vehicles and listen to the ceremony.”

Participants will also be allowed to park along 1st Street to view the Christmas tree lighting.

“It’s one of our big intersections in the centralized area of San Juan,” Garza said. “The street’s wide enough to where cars can park on both sides and you can still run traffic.”

Garza said police will be on hand to help make sure participants remain eight to ten feet apart and practice the guidelines recommended by the CDC.

The Christmas tree lighting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at the San Juan Municipal Park, located at 506 W. Business 83.

In order to attend the event, participants must reserve a spot by calling the San Juan Parks and Recreation Department at (956)233-2350 or City Hall at (956)233-2200.