VICTORIA -- The 122nd Victoria Day Parade has been cancelled to protect against the spread of COVID-19. It's the first ever cancellation in the event's storied history.

The parade, which was expecting to see up to 100,000 spectators this May, is being cancelled amid a provincial ban on gatherings larger than 50 people, which is in effect until at least May 30.

The Victoria Day Parade, scheduled for May 16, the 2nd annual Douglas Mile, slated for May 17, and the Festival of Bands on May 18 have all been cancelled, according to the Greater Victoria Festival Society (GVFS).

“These are unprecedented times,” said the GVFS in an announcement Thursday. “This is the first time in 12 decades of the parade that it has been cancelled.”

The GVFS estimates that the cancellation of the parade will cost the organization and the local economy millions of dollars.

According to the festival society, the May long weekend usually sees 1,000 local hotel rooms booked for parade participants alone, not including tourists who come to the city to view the festivities.

“We are asking our current entries to please be patient with us and in lieu of a refund asking if they (could) consider allowing their entry fee to stand for the 2021 parade,” said the GVFS. “This will help support our organization during these challenging times.”

While the historic parade has been cancelled, the GVFS says that it will hold a “virtual parade” for the community this May.

“We want our Canadian and American bands, our multicultural performers, floats, and walking groups to send us your videos, or your pictures of one of your past performances so we can put together a fun, ‘122nd Island Farms Victoria Salutes Sport Virtual Parade,’” said the festival society.

“We all have a role to play in stopping the spread of COVID-19. The Greater Victoria Festival Society is making every effort to protect our community.”

“Thank you to our amazing community,” said the GVFS. “We will see you again soon.”