GALLIPOLIS — The decorating for Gallipolis In Lights has officially begun and although experiencing this holiday favorite may be different this year due to COVID-19 restrictions, like many modified events in 2020, it will go on.
The Gallipolis In Lights organization, which is made up of volunteers, recently announced via its Facebook page, after reviewing guidelines from the Gallia County Health Department, meeting with Gallipolis City Officials and “much discussion,” the group decided the annual park lighting, fireworks and community tree walk would not be included in this year’s holiday light display.
The park lighting typically draws a large crowd. The tree walk, which had nearly 300 trees involved last year, lines the park’s walkways on both sides and is often a place where people stop to congregate. Large crowds and congregating in tight spaces are both issues health officials from the state to national level have discouraged during the current pandemic.
The group later stated, “We have made this decision to protect our community and to prevent the spread of the virus. We have been told if cases do increase following the lighting, the city may be forced to turn off the lights. There are people who work very hard for weeks leading up to our yearly lighting to make our town look beautiful for the holiday season and we do not want their work to go to waste. We want everyone to be able to enjoy the light display this year, but hope to make it something that can be enjoyed from the safety of your car.”
Although viewing the display from a vehicle is reportedly a safe way to do so, at this point, as it is now, the park will also be open. Multiple signs will be posted on risks and with guidelines on how to view the display as safely as possible, during the pandemic. The Gallipolis In Lights group previously stated to the Gallipolis City Commission it has been in contact with the Gallia Health Department about this signage.
In addition, Gallipolis In Lights stated, “We plan to have a virtual lighting that may be viewed in the comfort of your own warm home. We will keep you updated on exactly how that will work as we move forward. We are following all health department protocols and guidelines, such as masking up and social distancing, in order to continue with our holiday lights while ensuring the health and safety of our community. We look forward to a year of normalcy next holiday season.”
Despite a year where fundraising was severely impacted, volunteers have been working in City Park to ready the light display for those wishing for a bit of normalcy and light.
As previously reported by the Tribune, at a recent Gallipolis City Commission meeting, Lori Kelly, with the Gallipolis In Lights group, stated to commissioners and city administration, “I do personally think that during this pandemic we do need something joyful and something to look towards.”
For more on how to experience Gallipolis In Lights this year, follow the group on Facebook.
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Beth Sergent is editor of Ohio Valley Publishing.