CLINTON — While the traditional community Shoppers’ Stroll and Holiday Parade will not be happening this year due to COVID-19 restrictions, local residents and visiting families will still have the opportunity to shop and support local for the holiday season.
Clinton Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jackie Walters said in light of necessary social distancing requirements, the chamber will be unable to host the annual tree lighting and parade as part of this year’s festivities.
However, local businesses will be open Friday and Saturday, Nov. 27 and 28, and horse-drawn wagon rides will be offered noon to 4 p.m. both days. Rides will depart from the front of the Alexander Hamilton Institute. The Jingle Jog 5K will also continue this year, with several “waves” being offered to runners so that social distancing requirements may be maintained.
“We’re not having the tree lighting or the parade, but the tree will probably be lit some time that day (Friday),” Walters said. “Some of the traditional activities, like the reading of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’ and hosting choral singers from the high school, won’t be happening. We’re just hoping people will come out and support some of the businesses that were really impacted by having to be shut down for several months, and we encourage everyone to come out into the village and shop local.”
Walters said unfortunately, they will also not be able to host Santa Claus this year.
The state Department of Agriculture and Markets released guidelines earlier this year so that businesses could host autumn and Halloween wagon rides, and the wagon rides being offered during the holiday event will adhere to those same standards.
“There will be some restrictions and riders will be required to wear a mask,” Walters explained. “Everyone will also need to maintain social distancing and everything will be wiped down after use. We will need to limit the number of people for each ride, so say there is a family of six, then they can go at one time.”
The official start time for Saturday’s Jingle Jog will be at 8 a.m. Runners have until 6 p.m. Friday to register online.
To register, find the link on the Clinton Chamber’s website at www.clintonnychamber.org. There will be a choice of start times: 8, 8:15, 8:30, 8:45 and 9 a.m.
“There will be different waves for the 5K, with runners going out every 15 minutes,” said Walters. “We want to limit it to 40 people per wave so there’s not a lot of runners coming at once. In the past, we’ve had 150 people at the race. This year we’re giving away a gaiter — everyone will receive it at the beginning of the race and once they’re running, they can bring it down.”
In speaking with several local business owners, Walters said a number of them will have their own guidelines when shoppers come in for a visit during shopping hours.
“They’re limiting the number of people in their shops at one time, and shoppers will need to use a face covering,” she said. “We’re not having any non-profits on the sidewalks this year” whose representatives often sold hot cocoa, popcorn and other treats to raise money. “That will allow for social distancing and we can provide the space necessary if there is a line waiting to get into a store. It allows space so people can feel comfortable.”
Despite the COVID-19 shutdowns earlier this year, the Clinton Farmers Market was able to host 18 market days in the Village Green during the summer, and Walters said she hopes the same success can be seen in the village’s holiday celebration.
“We’re trying to do a smaller event. This is more for the businesses — they have suffered a lot due to the pandemic this year,” the executive director said. “A lot of the businesses in the village don’t sell their products online, so they were forced to shut down for a while.”
She said, “Like the farmers market, we were weighing, ‘Do we have it or not have it?’ but there are too many essential businesses that need this. We’re lucky to have several new businesses in town, and many that closed had people step up and take the space to start a new business. We’re hoping for many new and returning visitors, and we hope everything works out well.”