Home for the Holidays means ever so much more for Christmas 2020.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many people are spending a lot more time a little closer to home. Local Chambers, civic organizations and municipalities are planning some events – but they are scaling them back to keep their communities safe.

And many are trying to think out of the box to still bring the joy of the holidays to the local communities in a way for people to still social distance or participate virtually.

Hiawatha

Downtown Lighting: Hiawatha is no exception. The Hiawatha Chamber and Visitors Bureau had to forego the typical Holiday Homes Tour for 2020 and hope to be back bigger than ever for 2021. The HCVB is still planning to flip the switch on the wonderful lights that the City of Hiawatha purchased two years ago and installed late week last week in preparation of the holidays.

That event will be aired via Facebook Live at 6 p.m. Monday with the Junior Master of Ceremonies – this year “Every child in Hiawatha!!” Nominees were taken and voted on by Chamber businesses last week.

The official nomination was:

“Our kiddos have gone through so much this year, it would be awesome if they could all virtually turn on the lights. If you streamed via Facebook and told all the kids at home or in person at the event to hit the love emoji on their parents device and then turned them on, they would all feel they are turning on the lights and spreading love throughout our town during a time when we cannot do so in person.”

Well, it’s going to be hard to invite every child in Hiawatha to downtown Hiawatha to participate in light of social distancing.

So this year Santa is flipping the switch – but all the children of Hiawatha can participate through the HCVB Facebook Live event!

Ashley Olson, Chamber secretary and chairman of the Christmas events, said kids need to be on the Hiawatha Chamber and Visitors Bureau Facebook Live by 6 p.m. to help Santa turn on the lights.

“When the countdown reaches zero, the kids will press the heart button to bring the love of Christmas to Santa so he can flip the switch and turn on the lights!” she said. “And all children can participate.”

Due to concern over COVID-19, the general public is asked to not come downtown, but to participate virtually through the Facebook Live event.

Merry and Bright: The HCVB has decided we need some definite holiday cheer and is asking local residents to go all out this year with decorations and Christmas lights.

“We need some holiday cheer and you can help! We are looking for homes, businesses, barns, cars and more to decorate for the holiday season,” according to the HCVB.

The HCVB will create a map and on Saturday, Dec. 19, they are asking those signed up to have their lights on and decorations out from 6-9:30 p.m. Follow the map around the community and turn on some Christmas tunes while you are at it!

Anyone who doesn’t have lights but want to add to the cheer can still sign up and place a Santa in their windows for people to spy as they travel around the community. The HCVB welcomes lights and displays in the country as well.

Kleopfer said this is not a contest, just a way to spread some cheer. Sign up by Wednesday, Dec. 16 to be on the map.

The HCVB is also sponsoring the Shop Local campaign at participating businesses. Earn tickets for each $10 spent and be entered in a drawing to win up one of two prizes – a $700 grand prize and a $400 second-place prize. Participating businesses are Bling on the Nails/Mane Street Salon, Hometown Furniture, Just For You Jewelry and Gifts, Kex Rx Pharmacy, Kooser’s General Store, Mainstreet Flower Shoppe, Sarah Kathryn’s, Tice Health Mart, Tres Soles Salon, Up Cycle, Wright’s Eclectibles.

The HCVB is also collecting donations of Christmas lights to decorate a large community tree. The HCVB also has Chamber Bucks available for purchase to be used as gifts this holiday season. Contact the HCVB for more information or with any questions by calling 742-7136 or by emailing hiawathachamber@rainbowtel.net.

MerryTUBA Christmas: The Merry TUBA Christmas event, typically held at the Brown County Courthouse on the third Saturday of December, has been canceled due to COVID-19. Organizers plan to continue in 2021.

Fairview

Fairview Lights Up: Santa Claus will be at Van’s Electric, east edge of Fairview, from 6-8 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 10. This is Santa’s 27th year at Cleo and Elvon Van Dalsem’s Christmas wonderland. Santa requests that all visitors stay safe, wearing face masks and keeping social distance while visiting Santa.

Other homes in Fairview are getting their outdoor Christmas lights set up for visitors to enjoy. Organizers said that, regretfully, the other activities normally held for Fairview Lights Up have been canceled for this year. There will not be any vendors or exhibitors at the Community Center and no Poker Run. Organizers hope to return the event to full force by 2021.

Sabetha

Window Opening: The Community Christmas Tree Lighting is at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 27 in downtown Sabetha, according to the Sabetha Chamber. Everyone is invited to bring a weather resistant ornament to place on the tree. The Sabetha Elementary students are making ornaments. Parents are asked to take a picture of their child(ren) placing the ornament on the tree and tag the Chamber’s Facebook to be entered into a drawing for Chamber Gift Certificates. Santa will be driven down Main Street at 6 p.m. and kids are asked to please drop letters into the mail box located in City Hall. Santa is bringing along two of his favorite reindeer and they will be on the corner by Aberle Ford.

The businesses will be open late with specials and One-Night-Only deals! The City With Heart is kicking off their new promotion “Shop Home for the Holidays” For every $25 spent, shoppers will be entered into a drawing for 70 / $100 Chamber Gift Certificates.

Falls City

Drive Thru Santa Visits: Falls City Chamber & Main Street is presenting Drive Thru Santa Visits from 6-8 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 27 at 1501 Stone Street. Santa is taking extra precautions this year to make sure everyone has a healthy Christmas. Kids will have the chance to visit with Santa from the comfort of your own car!

Shop Small Saturday: Shop Small Saturday is on Nov. 28 in Falls City from 9 a.m. to 4 pm. at participating businesses, featuring in store specials and discounts, festive activities and refreshments. Collect the Falls City business punch card and receive a punch for every $10 spent at local participating businesses. Fill up the punch card and be entered to win one of 30 gift cards or a grand prize of $500 Chamber Bucks. Promotion runs from Nov. 28 to Dec. 31. Pick up punch cards at participating businesses.

Highland

Drive Thru Snowflake Festival: The Drive Thru Snowflake Festival is from 5:30-7 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 27 in a series of four stops.

Stop 1: Stop by City Hall for a Craft Bag.

Stop 2: Stop by the Senior Center for a book and a snack bag.

Stop 3: Kirkwood and Co. is sponsoring an outdoor firepit area for a professional photo with Santa. Photographer Jaime Albers will take photos of children with Santa for a fee. Masks and 6-foot social distancing are required. Photos will be emailed to parents.

Stop 4: Stop by Degginger Park for a treat bag and a gift and leave a letter for Santa with an elf. Santa will answer letters, but is relying on the elves to lick the stamps and address the envelopes for him. Make sure to have a legible address for the elves to send the letter. Degginger Park will be decorated for the entire holiday season but local residents are reminded if they stop to visit the park please follow mask protocol and social distancing. These events are sponsored by the Highland Lions and Highland Pride.

Highland Christmas Craft Fair: This event is set for 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 5 at the Highland Community College Wellness Center. Featuring 40 local and unique vendors. Entry fee is an item to be donated to Kaden’s Kloset. Masks strongly recommended.

Horton

Festival of Lights — Luminarias: Due to health concerns for not only the viewing public but also for the many people in and behind the scenes, the South Brown County Ministerial Association has voted to cancel the luminaries for this year.

Night of Lights: The Horton Chamber is sponsoring the annual Night of Lights at 5 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 28 at the downtown Green Park. There will be a tree lighting, Christmas carols, Santa and gifts for children. Gifts will be handed out at Maximum Insurance from 5:30-7:30 p.m. for children who have pre-registered by Nov. 20.

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