HOLIDAY HAPPENINGS: City getting ready to kick off holiday season

Keri Thornton | Daily Press

The Christmas decorations that are displayed at Norris Park are being tested and fixed at the Tahlequah Parks and Recreation Department.

The holidays will be underway in downtown Tahlequah earlier this year.

Jamie Hale, Tahlequah Mainstreet Association director, said they are focusing their efforts on the holiday season after 2020 has proven to be a gloomy year.

"Many people are overcome with COVID fatigue and are ready to have some joy back in their lives," Hale said. "While many families will be keeping closer to home for the holidays, we want to provide them with a season of family-friendly events and a beautifully decorated downtown, while encouraging the community to 'shop home for the holidays.'"

The Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce, Tahlequah Tourism, and the city of Tahlequah are partnering to ensure local businesses make it through the holidays after a rough year.

"This is citywide. Every businesses that we can hit is going to get window clings and posters of the 'Shop home for the holidays,' and reminding everyone to keep our money local, 'Spend where you live,' said Kelley Robertson, TACC operations manager.

Just like everything else in 2020, the Christmas parade is set up to accommodate the global pandemic to ensure the safety of community members.

"The parade will have the same parade lineup; only entries will be positioned along one side of Muskogee Avenue in a dedicated space for that size and type of entry, and will face the street," Robertson said. "Parade attendees will drive through slowly to experience the various floats and parade entries as they move through the line-up."

Robertson said to think of it just as regular parade, only in reverse. The spectators will move along in the parade route.

Lakes Country 102.1 will be on a stage providing live feed of the event. Attendees can tune to the station through their radio and listen to the live summary of the parade as they drive through it.

"These events will all be COVID-19 safe through the CDC guidelines with social distancing and mask policies," Robertson said.

Hale said the downtown corridor will be decorated for Christmas by Nov. 19, which is when TMSA hosts the Ladies Night Out event.

"With partnership with the Leadership Class 23, we were able to purchase, through fundraising efforts ,an 18-foot 'growing Christmas tree' with a 3-foot lighted topper," Hale said.

The plan is to place the tree in downtown around Dec. 3, and Hale said she would like to put together a ceremony to celebrate the lighting of the tree.

"The tree will be lit the evening of Dec. 4, and we will be inviting the community to visit the downtown area to grab dinner at their favorite restaurant, grab a coffee, and stroll through downtown to see the lights and new tree," Hale said.

Other holiday festivities downtown will include the TMSA Cookie Stroll on Main.

"We will be hosting our second annual Cookie Stroll on Main on Dec. 5, where families can purchase a cookie box, and stroll down Main Street to collect gourmet cookies at the many participating businesses," said Hale. "It is a great opportunity for the adults to do some Christmas shopping while the kids get to fill their box with cookies."

Tahlequah Parks and Recreation Administrative Coordinator Heather Torrento said they will begin setting up Christmas decorations on Nov. 2.

"Our goal is to have the decorations out by Ladies Night Out, and that's why we're starting so early," Torrento said.

The decorations will be set up in Norris Park and the Tahlequah Splash Pad. Torrento said they are looking into other locations that will allow constant electricity.

"Our problems is where do we have electricity that we'd be able to leave on all of the time. At this moment, we're thinking just at Norris Park or at the splash pad, but I think we're just going to stick to the park and the splash pad," Torrento said.

Robertson stresses that officials are monitoring the COVID-19 numbers in Cherokee County, and should it become too unsafe, they will make the call to cancel the holiday events if needed.

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