A float created by Pierson High School rolls up Grand Avenue during the City of Nogales Christmas Light Parade in 2019. The popular annual event won’t be held this year due to concerns over the coronavirus.

The Nogales City Council this week voted down upcoming holiday events, saying that they’d bring risky gatherings where COVID-19 could spread.

“Safety has to be our number one priority,” said Councilman Jose “Joe” Diaz.

At a Wednesday morning meeting, the council approved an agreement that will keep Día de los Muertos altars, the Christmas lights parade and the Karam Park casitas off city property this year.

Council members said the Mexican Consulate could still put on events, since the city doesn’t have authority over consulate property.

Earlier this year, the council called off the city’s annual Independence Day celebration, citing health concerns.

“This is not an easy year for us,” Mayor Arturo Garino said on Wednesday.

Councilwoman Esther Melendez-Lopez pushed back on cancelling the Día de los Muertos event, saying altars needn’t pose a health risk.

“It’s really not a party or anything going on, it’s a display,” she said.

Melendez-Lopez was the only one of the seven council members to vote against the cancellations on Wednesday.

City employees will get $500 holiday bonus

City of Nogales workers will see a $500 payment hit their bank account soon, after the mayor and council approved a holiday bonus on Wednesday morning.

“The City of Nogales desires to recognize all its employees’ hard work and dedication to the organization without creating a permanent increase in the cost of employee compensation,” a document on the council’s agenda stated.

The payout will cost the city up to $168,000 and was approved unanimously.

This will be the fourth straight year that city employees receive a $500 bonus around the holidays. City employees last received a pay raise in 2016.

Council members added that they’re hoping the bonuses get spent locally. “Let’s just hope that the employees circulate that money here in Nogales,” Mayor Arturo Garino said.

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