By Mike Baker
Two local organizations are encouraging area residents to help keep the Christmas spirit alive in Haliburton this festive season.
The Haliburton and District Lions Club is teaming up with the Haliburton Village Business Improvement Area (BIA) to host an impromptu month-long Christmas tree decoration party on Highland St. From now until Dec. 25, local residents are invited to bring their favourite Christmas ornament and hang it on the town tree, located outside the Village Barn on Highland Street.
The event has been put forward as a way for people to tap into the Christmas magic a little differently this year, with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic forcing popular celebrations such as the Santa Claus parade and Festival of Trees to be cancelled.
“It’s been a tough year, and I think people are looking for a sense of festivity and community with the Christmas season upon us,” said Angelica Ingram, administrator of the Haliburton BIA. “Our town is small, and we do a lot of community-oriented things, and people are starting to notice the absence of that.”
She added, “We’re trying to do something here to make people feel connected. We’re trying to encourage people to be a part of the community. I think people are tired of being isolated, and just tired of not seeing their neighbours, friends and family on the main street.”
With the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit reporting only four active COVID-19 cases in the area, and the region remaining in the ‘Green’ zone of the Ontario government’s coronavirus response framework, Ingram believes local residents can feel safe participating in the event providing they follow the recognized safety protocols and practice social distancing.
The tree, donated by local businessman Kim Emmerson and set up by volunteer members of the Dysart Fire Department last week, already boasts about a half dozen Christmas decorations, although there’s room for much more says Jim Frost, a long-time member of the local Lions Club.
Having spent several years organizing the town’s Santa Claus parade, Jim was determined to find another way to celebrate the Christmas season in style. In the end, it was his wife Marilyn who came up with the idea to decorate the town tree.
“I saw something on TV one day, where another community was doing something similar and I thought ‘what a great idea’,” Marilyn said. “I’ve always felt that tree should have something else on it. This is now a great way to get people into town, and get kids involved.”