The COVID-19 pandemic, which has lately resurged to startling levels across the nation, has put an end to most anticipated Yuletide activities across Fulton County.
The Village of Archbold will hold “Merry and Bright,” a decorating competition for homes and businesses. It’s an opportunity to spread glad tidings throughout the community and generally lift residents’ spirits as the coronavirus burns through the remainder of 2020, Parks and Recreation Director Jen Kidder said.
“It’s just something different to keep people engaged with our department during the pandemic,” she said.
Three categories are available: Creativity, Holiday Spirit, and Best Overall. Community members may nominate their favorite display by calling 419-445-4025 or emailing email@example.com; the deadline is Dec. 11. Judging will be held Dec. 13.
Gift baskets will be awarded to the winners.
The Wauseon Chamber of Commerce will hold its own version for the city, The Holiday Light Display Contest. Residents only within the Wauseon school district may enter one of four categories: Lights Only, True Meaning of Christmas, Most Original, and People’s Nomination.
Nominations can be emailed to the Chamber of Commerce at firstname.lastname@example.org. Homes will be judged between Dec. 1-15 by the Wauseon Beautification Team. Winners and runners-up in each category will be awarded Chamber gift certificates redeemable at member retailers.
Displays and their locations will be posted by the Chamber so all city residents may enjoy them.
Sponsored by Toledo Edison, the light display contest was revived after at least 10 years, partially to embrace the nostalgia, partially to reduce the COVID-19 blues.
“We’re going to go back and do what they did years ago,” said Bill Drummer, Chamber executive director. “If it’s well-received, we may do it annually.”
The contest is also meant to reduce the sting of other holiday cancellations including the city’s annual Christmas parade, the Wauseon Rotary Club’s Santa at the Depot event, and Christmas at the Cabin at the Fulton County Fairgrounds.
Metamora has canceled its single holiday event, a Christmas parade scheduled for Dec. 12. “It is what it is. They kind of expected it,” said Elizabeth Ryan, village deputy clerk in training.
In Delta, a village spokesperson confirmed cancellation of a Christmas parade scheduled for Dec. 5. No other holiday activities had been planned.
Christmas events that might usually be scheduled by the Fayette Opera House and the village’s ministerial association are also canceled. “With COVID, they aren’t really willing to do anything,” Village Administrator Genna Biddix said.
The opera house annually throws a Christmas parade that travels to the facility from the community library the day after Thanksgiving. Children visit afterward with Santa and decorate holiday-themed cookies.
Not this year. Due to the coronavirus the Fayette Opera House will remain closed until at least Dec. 31, which also eliminates intentions to host a concert by Trans Siberian Orchestra tribute band Siberian Solstice and present a holiday show or play in mid-December.
“A lot of people are sad, but they understand,” said Tina Snider, a member of the non-profit opera house’s programming committee. “It’s been really sad, and it’s really hurting our budget. We’re paying bills out of our general fund, and it’s getting kind of slim.”
Snider said COVID-19 guidelines allow only 15% of the facility’s seats – 30 out of 197 – to be occupied at once. Six scheduled events have been canceled since September, and the restrictions keep the opera house from renting to organizations.
The annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony at Pilliod Park in Swanton is off, as well as accompanying caroling and cookies and hot chocolate, according to Village Administrator Rosanna Hoelzle. The tree will be lit without fanfare or an audience, although the group that coordinates the annual event is cooking up a small surprise surrounding the lighting, she said.
Hoelzle said the ceremony’s cancellation is regretful, since “it does usually attract a hundred or two people.”
A holiday parade and a craft show and children’s event at Swanton High School is also scratched off the calendar.
However, Swanton Middle School is spreading the Christmas spirit with separate village-wide decorating contests for businesses and residents.
Businesses can enter a competition for a $25 fee; the winner will receive a trophy it can display for a year, until it’s passed to the next winner. A competition between Swanton homeowners will require a $5 entry fee, with the winner receiving a $50 gift card.
All proceeds will fund field trips and competitions for the middle school’s Swanton Seven Initiative. The program teaches students seven skills they will need in their future careers, including conversation, respect, hard work, and honesty.
If the winning home is owned by the parents of middle school students it will also be awarded Swanton Seven Initiative “house” points.
Business and home owners must register to compete by Dec. 6 at email@example.com; judging will take place the week of Dec. 7. Village residents can cast their votes on the school website.
Village of Lyons Administrator Tanya Lumbrezer said the annual Christmas parade set for Dec. 12 is a no-go after the county health department recommended its cancellation. That includes kids’ time with Santa at the village fire hall.
Lumbrezer said she’s received numerous calls from angry residents. “People think they ought to be able to make their own choices,” she said. “We waited as long as we could. We hoped things would change.”
Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.