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Jingle Cross 2020, no longer a World Cup, on track to go on as planned, despite COVID-19


Isaac Hamlet   | Iowa City Press-Citizen

As the COVID-19 pandemic  prompts event cancellations and cuts, the local Jingle Cross celebration expects to go on as planned in October.

"Obviously, being an event during this challenging year, we're watching events cancel left and right," said John Meehan, promoter and race director for Jingle Cross 2020.

Jingle Cross, a three-day, non-profit bicycle event based out of Iowa City, benefits the University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital.

In planning the event this year, Meehan was not only watching dubious recurrence status of other local events like IC Pride and North Liberty Blues & BBQ, but global and national events. The planning committee has observed how the NCAA and the Tour de France have handled things for this year.

"We want to do whatever's best for the public first," Meehan said. "I am a physician myself, and we're not going to do anything that's going to put anyone at risk."

That said, the path forward looks promising for Jingle Cross's announced schedule from Oct. 9 to Oct. 11.

There will be changes to this year's proceedings, though none are a result of COVID-19.

"We've been a World Cup (of cyclocross) for the last four years," Meehan said, lamenting that that would not be the case this year. "The World Cup was sold by the UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) to Flanders Classics, in Belgium, and they decided that they only wanted one World Cup event in the U.S."

While Meehan hopes to one day regain the World Cup moniker, the lack of it this year does free up resources to expand the weekend's programming offerings.

Jingle Cross will add a gravel event — the Jingle GX — and sports a C2 and two C1 professional cyclocross races. Friday Night Lights will become "Friday Night Frights," with costumes encouraged, and Meehan is hoping to see one or two televised.

"To be a World Cup is a lot of prestige and a lot of amazing opportunity for the city of Iowa City, and we intend to return to that," Meehan said. "(However) we can do a lot of different new things that we're excited about."

Isaac Hamlet covers arts, entertainment and culture at the Press-Citizen. Reach him at ihamlet@press-citizen.com or (319)-688-4247, follow him on Twitter @IsaacHamlet.