MUNCIE, Ind. — Whether it’s sitting on Santa’s lap, attending a Christmas concert or gathering for a tree-lighting ceremony, the holiday season in a typical year is full of events featuring large crowds and close connections to family and friends.
With Gov. Eric Holcomb’s latest executive order limiting crowd sizes to 50 people in high-risk orange counties and 25 people in the highest-risk red counties, organizations in Delaware County have had to re-think their annual holiday events this year, however.
Christmas will no doubt look different this year due to the virus, and most events are still aiming to bring cheer in a safe manner, whether it be a socially distanced light show or a virtual screening.
Here’s a look at how the holidays are shaping up locally:
Minnetrista re-imagines Enchanted Luminaria Walk
Minnetrista’s Enchanted Luminaria Walk in a previous year. (Photo: Jordan Kartholl / Star Press)
Due to the state’s requirement of limiting public gatherings to fewer than 50 attendees, Minnetrista has decided to cancel the event, at least in its traditional sense.
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Instead, the organization is working to decorate its campus with various lights and decorations. While the event usually lasts two days, visitors can enjoy this year’s holiday display Dec. 1-Jan. 10.
Visitors will be required to wear mask and to practice social distancing, whenever possible.
Light Up DWNTWN going virtual
First Thursday brought Light Up DWNTWN and several art galleries to downtown Muncie in 2015. (Photo: Corey Ohlenkamp/The Star Press)
Just as concerts and work meetings have gone virtual due to COVID-19, the annual Light Up DWNTWN event will move to an online platform this year.
Part of December’s First Thursday, the event usually brings hundreds to downtown Muncie for art show openings, holiday shopping and the official Christmas tree-lighting and celebration.
Instead of gathering around the tree at Canan Commons with hot cocoa and other treats, the annual Christmas tree lighting will go virtual this year, said Vicki Veach, executive director of DWNTWN.
“It’s good for morale and sense of civic pride, that there’s opportunities for people to still participate in activities and have some fun,” Veach said.
The event will be posted to Facebook Live at 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 3 at facebook.com/munciedowntown. Like every year, the tree will still feature a light show with holiday music.
Following the virtual event, the tree’s light show can be viewed, in-person, at 6, 7, 8 and 9 p.m. every Thursday through Sunday throughout December.
While the tree lighting has gone virtual, Veach said downtown shopping and First Thursday gallery events still will be offered throughout downtown. The organization has also partnered with the Muncie Children’s Museum on the Amazing Elf Adventure.
The event is one of the museum’s largest, and this year, it will include a month-long interactive scavenger hunt. About 80 elves will be placed in downtown’s storefront windows.
The museum and DWNTWN will post a scavenger hunt sheet and a series of video scavenger hunts on Facebook for participants. Those who find 50 elves can submit their sheets in a drawing for five $100 prizes.
To keep it festive, the museum is selling Elf Kits to accompany the online elf hunt. Kits include an elf hat, elf license, mini candy cane, a bell, a coloring book, a Christmas craft and a personalized video message from one of the elves to a child.
For those planning to visit downtown for either event, Veach said social distancing and masks are recommended.
“Obviously, we want to make sure we drive as much traffic to downtown as possible to support the businesses down here,” Veach said. “It’s important that we maintain a strong economically developed, sound downtown.”
For more information, visit downtownmuncie.org/lightupdwntwn and munciemuseum.com/amazing-elf-adventure-2020/.
Santa to still visit Muncie Mall
Children tell Santa what they want for Christmas at Muncie Mall in 2018. (Photo: Jordan Kartholl/The Star Press)
Children will still be able read off their Christmas list and get photos with Santa at Muncie Mall this year.
Due to COVID-19, attendees are encouraged to make a reservation at the mall’s website. Santa will visit the mall 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday, and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Christmas Eve.
Chataun Porch, general manager of Muncie Mall, said the mall is following state mandates, and guests will need to wear masks when interacting with Santa.
Take a drive through Meridian’s light exhibit
Visitors drive through the light display at the Suzanne Gresham Center in Muncie in 2018. (Photo: Jordan Kartholl / The Star Press)
To keep things festive while remaining socially distant, Meridian Health Services will once again hold its Holidays at Gresham drive-thru light exhibit.
Starting the first weekend in December, the Suzanne Gresham Center campus will host as many cars as possible, 6-9 p.m. during nights of operation at 3620 W. White River Blvd.
The events are free through the month of December, and will happen the weekends of Dec. 4-6, 11-13 and 18-20.
On Giving Tuesday, Tuesday, Dec. 1, the healthcare system will hold a sneak peak of the light exhibit, 6-8 a.m. and 6-8 p.m, with snacks provided. Children can fill out a letter to Santa that can be dropped in Santa’s mailbox prior to the event.
For more information, visit holidays.meridianhs.org.
No in-person Community Christmas Sing
Dating back decades, the Muncie Community Christmas Sing is known for bringing the Muncie Community Schools’ choirs, bands and color guard, the Youth Symphony Orchestra of East Central Indiana and more together,
However, this year, there will be no in-person event.
Andy Klotz, chief communications officer at MCS, said the event will be broadcast on Tuesday, Dec. 22 WIPB. A time is yet to be determined.
This year’s Sing will be a compilation of new and previous performances, woven into one cohesive event, Klotz said.
Kiwanis Club of Muncie cancels Christmas tree lot
Due to a shortage of Christmas trees and concerns for COVID-19, the Kiwanis Club of Muncie announced it will not have its annual Christmas tree fundraising sale.
To help offset the loss of the Christmas tree fundraising, the club will sell 2.25 lb. cans of roasted gourmet nuts and 2 lb. tins of chocolate-covered nuts and pretzels. The items sell for $25 each and are on sale from Kiwanis members and at the following businesses during business hours:
- Harkin Eye Care, 2304 N. Wheeling Ave.
- Leaird Scuba, 1623 W. Jackson St.
- Goosehead Insurance, 2809 W. Godman Ave.
Information about local holiday events can be sent to [email protected]
Charlotte Stefanski is a reporter at The Star Press. Contact her at 765-283-5543, [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @CharStefanski.
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