It looks like Christmas won't be cancelled in the village of Bayfield.
Christmas in Bayfield, a weekend event held each year in November, was reimagined as a month-long affair designed to accommodate physical distancing and support local businesses.
“(We wanted to) make it sustainable and spread it out so that people have an option of coming throughout multiple weekends,” said Leanne Kavanagh, chair of the Bayfield and Area Chamber of Commerce. “The (COVID-19 safety) restrictions we’re working under have allowed for more creative opportunities.”
Beginning Saturday, and running every Saturday until Dec. 19, part of Main Street will be shut down to traffic and transformed into a Christmas village with picnic tables and fire-pit warming stations.
“It’ll look like a little ski resort,” Kavanagh said. "It’s really nice to have the smell of an open fire. It just adds to that wintery village feel. It’s basically an outdoor mall, but in this cute little village.”
She said closing the street will allow shoppers to maintain physical distancing and signs will remind visitors to stay in their bubble groups.
“Our main focus was safety,” Kavanagh said.
Other Christmas traditions in the Lake Huron village were also reworked.
The parade and concerts that normally go along with a Friday night tree lighting are cancelled.
People should stay in their vehicles when viewing the holiday lights at Clan Gregor Square and Santa Claus will be posted at the Albion Hotel’s patio, where kids can wave from a distance.
Visitors can snap pictures and post them online to win prizes at a Christmas photo booth on Main Street.
“We’re hoping it will be a good Christmas season,” said Judy Stephenson, owner of Marten Arts Gallery. “People, of course, they can’t travel, so I think they’re coming to these smaller communities and hopefully shopping.”
Kavanagh hopes the village’s transformation will rekindle some holiday spirit.
“In a time when everything feels a little sterile, when you come to Bayfield, already it has that feel like things are still fairly normal,” she said. “During Christmas it’s important we have a bit of cheer.”
IF YOU GO
What: Christmas in Bayfield
When: Every Saturday until Dec. 19, with Main Street closed to traffic 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; most shops and restaurants still open during the week
The experience: Holiday lights in the square, outdoor fire pits, photo booths and open-air shopping
Max Martin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, London Free Press