The Santa Coronavirus Conundrum
By Kathy Feist
Usually this time of year, before anyone had sat down to eat their Thanksgiving turkey dinner, Santa would have visited multiple Christmas tree lighting ceremonies, had listened to sweet Christmas wishes from the mouths of children, and greeted many smiling strangers.
But it is 2020, the year of the coronavirus and even newer restrictions. Santa’s visits and many holiday activities have had a change of plans in order to keep communities safe.
Due to the newest restrictions which take effect Friday, Martin City has changed its Christmas Tree Lighting Celebration a second time. The Lighting Ceremony will be virtual on December 3 rather than November 19 as planned, or November 12 as originally planned. There will be no Santa. The lighting will include a “magic tree” planted at 200 E 135 St. in front of KC Running Company, a feature that will be lit up year round based on different holidays.
“We’ve tried very hard to keep Santa and guests safe without taking away the Christmas magic,” says Angie Boehner with the Martin City Business Community Association, which plans the yearly event.
Ward Parkway erected its 30-foot tall Christmas tree on Thursday, November 5, with no fanfare. “We are very disappointed to have to have done that, but Covid,” says Dave Claflin, spokesman for Ward Parkway Shopping Center. Gone are Mr. and Mrs. Santa, the elementary school choirs, and an extravagant signal for crowds to visit the merchants. “”We are planning on a full slate of events next year,” he says.
Brookside had a socially distanced tree lighting with a trombone quartet on November 12. “If it weren’t for Covid, we would have had four or five different schools singing holiday songs,” says Southtown Council Executive Director Sean Ackerson.
Waldo will incorporate a holiday lighting display contest this year. The Waldo Lights Competition will kick off on Saturday, November 28 in conjunction with Small Business Saturday. The community can vote on their favorite displays via QR code posters hung at participating businesses and on social media at facebook.com/everythingwaldo. The businesses that win will receive additional marketing support to end the holiday year strong!.
The granddaddy of all Christmas tree lighting ceremonies, the 93rd Annual Country Club Plaza Lighting Ceremoney on Thanksgiving evening, has decided to be a live broadcast-only event. “Socially distanced spectators are welcome, but large groups will not be permitted to gather,” reads their statement released last month. In addition to the time-honored “flipping of the switch,” the event will feature musical performances, historical highlights, celebrity guest messages and fireworks.
Jackson County has cancelled its annual fireworks show, Christmas in the Sky at Longview Lake Beach. Instead it will have spiffed up its Christmas in the Park drive-thru with a 25-foot Santa, an expanded lit up entrance tunnel experience, and the addition of two extra days. The free animated drive-thru of Longview Rd. begins November 25 and ends January 2.
The county encourages only those within the same household to be in the same vehicle when driving through the holiday display in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
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