By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
COOPERSTOWN – Cooperstown Community Christmas Committee isn’t going to let COVID-19 be the Grinch who steals the holiday.
“It was clear by last summer that Christmas was going to be different,” said the 4C’s Peg Leon. “But we didn’t want to not decorate. It’s important to provide something for the locals and the children.”
This Sunday, Nov. 22, at 2 p.m., the village’s Christmas season starts, as families volunteer to decorate 48 Main Street light poles, as well as Santa’s cottage, with festive greenery to prepare the way for Santa’s arrival.
“Some families have been decorating the same pole for years,” Leon said. “They’re far enough apart to be socially distanced, and everyone will be wearing gloves and masks anyway.”
The committee will provide all decorations, and Tin Bin Alley will provide hot chocolate to warm up chilly hands when the decorating is done. To reserve your spot, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Santa will arrive at his Pioneer Park cottage and light the tree in a virtual parade, broadcast on the 4C’s Facebook page on Thanksgiving.
“The parade draws such a big crowd, especially from out of town,” said Leon. “So obviously, we have to
do this virtually.”
“We are so pleased that the Christmas Committee found a way to perpetuate our Christmas traditions in safe ways,” said Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh, who will welcome Santa during the ceremony. “This is a wonderful way to continue our long-standing traditions amidst our current health challenges.”
And this year, Santa won’t be constrained to his tiny cottage, but will be out walking the streets to visit with families.
“Because we can’t do visits in the cottage, it’s all about Santa sightings,” said Leon.
Kids are invited to wave and “elbow-bump” Santa, Mrs. Claus, Frosty and Rudolph, and also to take a photo to submit to the Chamber of Commerce’s website in a “Santa Spotting” spree – whether you see them window-shopping downtown, picking up fresh produce at the Farmers Market, or feeding the ducks at the Fly Creek Cider Mill.
“Santa and Mrs. Claus are really pumped about making these surprise visits around town,” said Leon. “They’ll have masks on and be able to meet with people while still keeping six feet of social distancing.”
The cottage will still be in Pioneer Park, but with a new edition – a mailbox where kids can drop a letter to Santa.
But be sure to include a return address, because not only will he write back, said Leon, but his elves will include a special gift with the reply.
Letters can also be sent to P.O. Box 428, Cooperstown, NY 13326.
Also new this year is story time with Mrs. Claus, who will do a virtual reading on the Christmas Committee’s Facebook page every week through the Christmas season. The schedule has not yet been announced, but will be posted on www.facebook.com/cooptownchristmas.
“We want people to know that Christmas is still here,” said Leon.