By Jenn Watt
Santa will still come to Haliburton this year, but just like everything else during the coronavirus pandemic, the way he does so will look different.
On Tuesday, Sept. 29, the Haliburton BIA and the Haliburton and District Lions Club came to the decision that the Santa Claus Parade would not be happening in Haliburton Village in 2020, though plans are in the works to bring St. Nick to the kids in another way.
“We just felt it was time that we had to pull the plug on it,” said Jim Frost, an organizer with the Lions Club. “… just about every other small town in Ontario has cancelled theirs. … Fenelon Falls, the close ones, Bobcaygeon, they’ve all pulled the plug.”
The parade was to have taken place on Nov. 20. In Haliburton Village, the Santa Claus Parade is a well attended event, with many behind the scenes organizers as well as strong participation in the floats.
BIA president Luke Schell said the decision was difficult to make, but in the interest of safety, it was best not to have the parade this year.
“We are disappointed to have to cancel our Santa Claus parade for 2020,” he wrote in an email to the Echo. “We had planned and prepared the event at a reduced level in hopes that we might be able to have a lovely ‘small town parade.’ I’m sure it’s not a surprise to anyone that we eventually decided we had to cancel. There are the usual fundamental reasons that everyone is becoming familiar with, and they do make sense in keeping everyone safe.”
One method of transmission of the coronavirus is through the air, necessitating physical distancing and mask wearing. This may not have been easy to do with a popular downtown parade.
Frost said organizers had come up with initial plans to keep people safe using Legion Cadets as marshals, ensuring proper spacing between people and mask wearing, but in the end it seemed safer to skip the parade this year.
“We wanted to protect the safety and health of everyone in the community,” Frost said.
To ensure there’s still an opportunity for children to see Santa before the big day, the Lions Club and BIA are planning an alternative for Sunday, Nov. 29 in the afternoon. Frost said he wanted to keep the specifics under wraps for a while longer as planning continues.
Organizers hope they can find ways to make the leadup to the holidays special, despite the pandemic.
“We all just want our community’s children to experience as much of the ‘magic’ of the season as possible, under these difficult circumstances regarding the COVID-19 pandemic,” Schell said.