The fate of Cambridge and Deerfield holiday celebrations are being considered by area chambers of commerce and organizers.
Some groups say it’s too soon to tell if festivities will happen amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Others are planning alternative, socially-distant options.
Cambridge’s annual Classic Christmas weekend has been organized in recent years by the Cambridge Area Chamber of Commerce in cooperation with other local organizations like the Cambridge Lions Club, local businesses, the Cambridge Community Activities Program and other non-profits.
It’s usually held the first weekend in December, kicking off with a tree lighting in Veterans Park hosted by the Lions Club, with caroling by Cambridge Deerfield Players Theater and hot chocolate. The weekend also includes family-friendly events like a magic show, Elf Shelf, horse-drawn hayrides and gingerbread house-making. It usually wraps up with a Breakfast with Santa at Cambridge Elementary School, organized by the Cambridge Community Activities Program.
In 2019, there was also business window decorating, a Singing Christmas Tree at Willerup United Methodist Church, a dinner theater production of “Scrooge’s Christmas,” at Plow Restaurant, and a pop-up downtown art event.
Karen Anderson, president of the Cambridge Area Chamber of Commerce, said whether this year’s Classic Christmas happens in any form depends on county guidelines on events and gathering sizes.
Right now, the Chamber is not planning any in-person events for Classic Christmas, Anderson said.
“We don’t know what the rules are going to be at that point in time,” Anderson said. The Chamber thought it was “better to plan for (guidelines) being strict and then change them,” if Covid case numbers improve, she said.
Anderson said she has consulted with Dane County health officials, who said the Chamber “legally can’t do events,” but can plan promotions that won’t cause people to gather.
CAP Executive Director Jordan Nichols said, however, CAP is still planning to hold some form of a Breakfast with Santa.
The breakfast is still scheduled for Dec. 6, and will likely be a drive-through event to follow county guidelines, Nichols said. CAP is still finalizing those plans, Nichols added.
Anderson said the Chamber sent out a letter this week to businesses and non-profit organizations that have previously helped run Classic Christmas. The letter asks groups if they’re interested in participating this year, and what kinds of activities they might be interested in joining.
The Chamber is “asking the participants what they think they can do” while following county guidelines, Anderson said.
Anderson said she’s hopeful, now that groups have some experience adapting activities amid Covid-19, that they may come up with some creative options for holiday celebrations.
“It’ll be interesting to see what people come up with,” Anderson said. “Now that we’ve been doing this for a little while, we’re able to think our way through it better.”
Anderson said lots of ideas for socially-distanced activities have been thrown around, but not finalized yet, like take-and-make kits or opportunities for holiday portraits.
Anderson said the Chamber will be holding a window display contest, with downtown businesses decorating their storefronts, and winners being chosen on social media.
Anderson said she hopes the window displays will get people downtown, spread visitors out to encourage social distancing, and make downtown look nice for the holiday season.
At this point, however, a window display contest is the only plan finalized, Anderson said.
“I hope the Covid situation is much improved by Christmas, but we don’t know what’s going to happen,” she said.
Family Christmas in Deerfield usually happens the second weekend in December, with many events organized by the Deerfield Chamber of Commerce.
The festival last year began with a cookie walk and Festival of Trees downtown. The Chamber usually organizes a tree lighting outside the Deerfield public Library with live music, gingerbread house building and wagon rides. And the Deerfield Volunteer Fire Department puts on the annual Santa Breakfast.
The Deerfield Chamber of Commerce is not sharing any information at this time about a Deerfield Family Christmas weekend, said the Chamber’s chair, Leah Fritsche.
The Chamber is discussing, however, if it’s possible to adapt the annual Pumpkin Hunt through downtown Deerfield to meet safety guidelines.
The Deerfield Volunteer Fire Department did not immediately reply to a request for information about Deerfield’s Santa Breakfast, held at the fire station on Industrial Park Drive every year.
The Fire Department is offering a drive-through trick or treat event on Halloween, where families can pick up goodies without having to leave their vehicles.