What initially was going to be a subdued Christmas celebration in South River is now much closer to what the municipality has held in the past. Citing COVID-19 concerns at the Nov. 8 council meeting, elected officials agreed not to hold several events like horse-drawn hayrides and a gingerbread house decorating contest. However, clerk-administrator Don McArthur said several days following the meeting, council and staff reconsidered the earlier decision. As a result, both the gingerbread house contest and hayrides are back in the picture. McArthur says even though the hayrides are outdoors, people will have to wear masks because it's not possible to social distance on the wagon. Additionally, the rides are traditionally about 20 minutes long but McArthur says they may be shortened a little so people are not in close proximity to one another for too long. With the gingerbread contest, McArthur says when looking at the decorated houses, the municipality has to ensure there's enough separation between the public and the entries since “someone may eat the gingerbread” houses later. When council adjourned the Nov. 8 meeting, the only events that Christmas in the Village was to include was a tree lighting ceremony outside the municipal office in addition to a bonfire. Public skating was also going to be allowed at the South River Machar Community Centre, provided all the participants are vaccinated. Council initially moving to low-key Christmas in the Village event prompted Coun. Teri Brandt to say “it doesn't sound like much fun from a kid's perspective.” But the inclusion of the past events will see more children involved, including a craft event hosted by the local library which takes place on the second floor of the arena. The only event that won't make it to this year's Christmas in the Village is the children's choir, since singing is one of those events that is more difficult to pull off during the pandemic since people are very close together and wearing a mask makes it difficult to sing. A visit from Santa is something the municipality continues to work on. “Santa's got a very busy schedule but we're hopeful he'll be able to make an appearance,” McArthur said. All the details will begin appearing on the municipal website and municipal Facebook page the week of Nov. 22, plus a flyer will go out with the details. Christmas in the Village takes place Dec. 10 beginning at 6:30 p.m.
Rocco Frangione is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the North Bay Nugget. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.
Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The North Bay Nugget