RIO GRANDE — Christmas on the Ridge organizers were not deterred by COVID-19, 2020’s version of the Grinch that Stole Christmas. Instead, they came up with a new plan that would allow families to enjoy a bit of cheer while social distancing.
According to Patricia Filie, who spearheaded the event, the decision was made to have a drive through.
“This was going to be our second year, and we wanted to continue the tradition while ensuring everyone’s safety. Children and families so needed a bit of fun during this difficult time, so it became a drive through.”
As musicians performed seasonal favorites, vehicle occupants enjoyed a roadway lined with Holiday themes, including a live Nativity, Frosty the Snowman, the Grinch, and a few live reindeer direct from the North Pole.
Rudolf and elves danced around the vehicles as they neared their destination, counting the number of children in each. This allowed them to place the appropriate number of treat bags on a pole that Santa “delivered” while social distancing.
“No one had to get out of the car at any time. Everything was set up to facilitate a safe but fun time for families,” Filie said.
The turnout was much larger than expected.
“Last year we handed out around 300 treats, so we made 800 this year. The plan was to donate the leftovers.”
When it was clear 800 would not be enough, and Filie said it was decided that no one would be disappointed.
Volunteers raced to procure more treats and fill additional bags. In total, 1200 treats were presented to eagerly waiting children via a pole from Santa.
Filie said that everyone who volunteered last year came out again to continue the tradition.
“It was amazing how everything came together,: she said. “Everyone pitched in to make this a very special night. We had so many volunteers, it is a very long list. I just want to thank everyone involved.”
And next year? Filie and all the volunteers are hoping to have a more traditional event, but say that whatever 2021 brings, the tradition will continue.
Rio Ridge Venue, in collaboration with Bob Evans Farms hosted the event that was funded entirely by individual and community donations, and was free to the public.
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Lorna Hart is a freelance writer for The Daily Sentinel.