Let's celebrate outside the box safely - Denny Scott editorial
Among Halloween, Thanksgiving, Remembrance Day and, on the horizon, Christmas, COVID-19 has taken its toll on regular celebrations this year. While some people have wanted to persevere and try and make things work under the rules and suggestions from doctors and scientists, others have decided it’s not worth the risk and celebrated events on their own.
With Halloween fast approaching and Remembrance Day shortly after, we are all learning what could work, what won’t work and what just won’t happen and, unfortunately, there are a lot of things falling into that last category.
Remembrance Day ceremonies are being held privately to make sure those who made the ultimate sacrifice are being remembered safely. Halloween parties are supposed to move online, according to Huron Perth Public Health, while trick or treating is going to be limited with rules for how candy should be handed out and what people can buy as treats for the big day.
However, recently, people have started to look to Christmas events like local Santa Claus parades and are turning them into “reverse parades”, where the floats are stationary and the crowds, in cars, tour around them without any risk of contracting COVID-19.
While I’m not saying that the reverse parades are a bad idea, I am saying there might be a better idea by looking at my wife’s home: Dorchester.
The village, depending on how that’s measured, has between 4,000 and 9,325 people and is part of Thames Centre. Despite my wife’s arguments to the contrary, it is pretty much a suburb of London.
Every year, my wife and I sit down and figure out how we’re going to celebrate Christmas with our families. We have a handful of celebrations to get to in just a few days, so it’s always a discussion about where to be and when.
We traditionally go to Dorchester to visit her father and sister on Christmas Eve because that’s when the village has its Santa Claus parade.
That’s right, the Santa Claus parade is actually on Christmas Eve which must prompt all sorts of questions from younger audience members about how Santa can fit in that visit on the busiest night ever. However, it’s a great tradition as far as I’m concerned.
Every year we grab their local newspaper and time out when the parade will be going by my in-laws’ home and then park ourselves at the bottom of the laneway to take it in. See, the parade goes through every major neighbourhood in the community instead of being limited to a main street route.
It’s not a long parade and, on particularly slushy nights, it can go by pretty fast, but Mary Jane loves seeing Santa.
Am I suggesting that Blyth, Brussels, Clinton, Seaforth, Wingham or any of the other local communities look to host their Christmas Parade on Dec. 24? No. Please don’t. First off, we would likely not be able to cover it in the paper. Secondly, I’d be guaranteed to miss it every year.
No, I’m suggesting that we look at parades that may take a bit longer, but could have fewer entries. Get those parades visiting every house they can in the community, that way people can stay safe and distanced from others by just sitting at their own property.
Dorchester is a lot bigger than the Huron County communities I listed above and the parade manages to hit the community at large, even my in-law’s home which is surrounded by agricultural fields.
I’m guessing that, come Christmas, we’re going to be in the same situation we are now, if not a worse one due to regular flu season compounding the ongoing pandemic. That means we may not be able to see friends or family and we definitely won’t be able to have parades in the traditional sense. If, however, people didn’t need to do anything but set up some lawn chairs at the end of the lane, brew some hot chocolate and dress warmly to take it in while staying far away from everyone else, we could keep some of these traditions alive.
Again, don’t get me wrong. The reverse parade idea could be a good one. It won’t be one I’ll be particularly looking forward to because driving slowly isn’t fun in my mind, but it shows thinking outside the box. That said, why reinvent the wheel when another community has, for years, been doing exactly what needs to be done to keep people safe and let the younger crowd get a glimpse of Santa?
Regardless of how we end up celebrating Christmas, Remembrance Day or Halloween, let’s keep it safe people. Wear a fabric mask, stay two metres away from others and stay home if you’re sick. Or heck, just stay home period. That’s the safest way we can weather this storm.