A modified Christmas in Merrickville is being planned for the Village on the first weekend in December. Due to COVID-19, many of the usual Christmas in Merrickville activities have been cancelled, including the Santa Clause parade, fire barrels in the street, cookie walk and weigh, and the carriage rides. That being said, the Christmas in Merrickville committee, along with local businesses and the Merrickville and District Chamber of Commerce, have been working hard to plan an event that will still encourage people to come visit Merrickville, while staying safe.
To promote social distancing, this year’s event will be spread over two days: Saturday, December 5, and Sunday, December 6. President of the Merrickville and District Chamber of Commerce, Yves Grandmaitre, says this is to, hopefully, spread the number of visitors to the Village out over the two days to make sure the stores aren’t overwhelmed with shoppers.
“The stores have a lot of concerns, because we have a lot of shop owners who are older that you could consider at risk. Their concern is controlling the crowds in the stores.”
The COVID-friendly Christmas in Merrickville will still include some special attractions, including the Knock Knock Shoppe’s usual silent auction in support of several local charities, and a draw to win gift cards from Merrickville shops, with the ballot box located at Larkspur Lane Country Mall on St. Lawrence Street. There will also be a store decorating competition to get everyone in the spirit of the season. On Saturday, the Lions Club will be handing out hot apple cider, and the Merrickville Food Cupboard will be collecting donations in the afternoon outside the Merrickville Food Market. “The [CP] holiday train is providing financial contributions, but still, the amount of food that was being donated far exceeded what they’re going to get as a financial contribution,” Yves says. “The food bank needs all the help they can get.”
The Chamber of Commerce will be taking care of decorating the Village, including floodlights on the trees in the Blockhouse Park, six-foot-tall lit angels in the new Merrickville Square, and decorations on the trees in the Cenotaph Park. Although there is no tree lighting ceremony this year, the big evergreen tree in the Blockhouse Park will still be lit for everyone to enjoy.
Christmas in Merrickville organizers and businesses are looking forward to welcoming visitors from far and wide to the Village for their annual celebration, but they are asking that everyone maintain physical distancing, use hand sanitizer, and wear masks when going into any of the stores. “We don’t want Christmas in Merrickville to be known as a super spreader,” Yves says. “We still want people to come, but in a responsible way.”
Despite the pandemic, Christmas in Merrickville organizers felt it was important to go ahead with the celebration which has become a much-loved tradition for the Village. It is also very important for the Village economically, as it is usually the busiest day of the year for the merchants. “Rather scale back, than none at all,” Yves says.
If this summer is any indication, they are expecting that the Christmas in Merrickville weekend will be very busy and successful. Stores will be open on Saturday from 11 am- 7 pm and Sunday from 11 am-5 pm. Unlike previous years, St. Lawrence Street will remain open to traffic. For more information, and to keep on top of updates, visit the Christmas in Merrickville Facebook page.