The Monument Square District is planning its annual Friday after Thanksgiving downtown holiday celebration, this year on Nov. 27.
This year’s event is called Downtown Holiday Festivities, rather than the Holiday Horse Parade, because COVID-19 concerns have canceled the annual parade, which attracts people who line Scioto Street and crowd into Monument Square to see the horses adorned in holiday fare.
“We couldn’t keep social distancing with so many people attending,” said Vicki Deere-Bunnell, MSD president, adding that Lebanon and other communities also are canceling their holiday horse parades.
“But Santa is still coming,” she said. “Santa has always come on this night and he will again.”
As he has in the past, Santa will enter Monument Square in a trolley, but Deere-Bunnell said children will not ride with him this year and may not be permitted on his lap during his Urbana visit. She said, however, that COVID-19 precautions will not keep children from telling Santa what they want for Christmas.
She said MSD will be consulting with the county Health District about Santa visits that will be scheduled throughout the season and activities planned for the Holiday Festivities day.
“We’re in the planning stages,” she said of the Nov. 27 celebration. A tentative schedule at monumentsquaredistrict.com has downtown shops opening at 10 a.m. and they’ll have extended hours that day. Food vendors and other outside vendors are scheduled from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.. Street carolers will entertain throughout the day. Free carriage rides are set for 4-7 p.m., and the tree lighting ceremony at Monument Square’s Legacy Park is at 5:30 p.m.
Santa is to arrive via trolley at 6 p.m. to visit with children that day and at certain times each weekend until Dec. 20.
Visit MSD’s website for updates on the schedule, as well as where Santa Land will be in downtown Urbana this year.
Vendors who wish to set up for Downtown Holiday Festivities will find a registration form on the MSD website. They also can contact MSD at 937-788-2812.
Those who wish to become street carolers or provide other holiday music also can contact MSD.
Deere-Bunnell said she welcomes other ideas for Downtown Holiday Festivities.
“Anything that makes it festive in downtown Urbana, I’m open to,” she said. “We need it.”
Downtown merchants already are working on the Holiday Kick Off, to be held every Friday and Saturday in November and December.
Deere-Bunnell encourages people to enjoy the “small-town charm” of downtown and its businesses not only during the holidays, but throughout the year.
Kathy Fox can be reached at 937-652-1331, ext. 1773.