London Olde Fashioned Christmas cancelled

Members of the Jefferson Township Fire Department help to hang lights in trees at Garrette Park in West Jefferson. The West Jefferson Community Association will not hold its usual three-day celebration to kick off the light display.

(Posted Nov. 18, 2020)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

Due to safety concerns, the Downtown London Association (DLA) has cancelled this year’s Olde Fashioned Christmas.

Set for Nov. 29, the event was to feature carriage rides, visits with Santa, a photo booth, carolers, and a holiday wreath giveaway, among other holiday activities.

“While disappointing for the London and Madison County community, the recent increased cases of COVID, the announcements by Governor (Mike) DeWine, and with counsel by (Madison County Public Health), it is in the best interest to cancel this popular and well attended event,” said Todd Fisher, a DLA board member, in a statement released on Nov. 17.

The DLA had been working closely with the health department for weeks to find ways to put on the event as safely as possible. The group nixed its Santa and pet parades and planned to move the Santa visits from an indoor venue to the gazebo at Cowling Park. But with recent developments in the pandemic, these measures weren’t going to be enough.

With COVID-19 cases skyrocketing around the state, the governor has issued a statewide order banning mass gatherings of more than 10 people. This will impact plans for holiday events around Madison County.

“For any of these traditional holiday events, I just don’t see any scenarios of how these are going to play out or be able to happen,” said Chris Cook, Madison County health commissioner.

Cook and his staff are reaching out to city and village leaders and event organizers to explain how the governor’s orders impact plans for public events.

“I think everyone is catching up to the full reality of what this means as we move into the holiday season,” Cook said. “Anything that’s a celebration or a gathering is going to be a ‘no.’”

The West Jefferson Community Association has already eliminated the three-day celebration it traditionally hosts to kick off its annual Christmas in the Park. Organizers are still hanging hundreds of thousands of lights on trees, buildings, and Christmas-themed wood cutouts at Garrette Park and will illuminate the park nightly from Nov. 27 through Jan. 1.

The Mount Sterling Market Crew was planning a wide array of activities for its Christmas in the Village, set for Dec. 5 in downtown Mount Sterling. The Uptown Plain City Organization and village of Plain City were planning to hold a pared down version of their annual Christmas Under the Clock on Dec. 11. The health department is making contact with the organizers of these events.

Cook said drive-through and drop-off events are still possible, such as toy collections and Madison Health’s adjusted plans for its annual Lights of Love tribute. Even with these set-ups, Cook says the health department needs to be involved in planning.

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