Highlands Chamber of Commerce & Visitor Center Director Kaye McHan told the Highlands Town Board on Thursday that the annual Halloween celebration in downtown Highlands has been cancelled because of COVID-19.
“Much research and creative thinking has gone into reimagining Halloween for the thousands of participants that normally attend our annual Halloween event, unfortunately we have not found a safe alternative that meets the state’s current mandates,” said McHan. “It is with great regret that the Board of Directors voted to cancel Highlands annual downtown Halloween event. This year has been an extremely perplexing because of challenging circumstances related to the pandemic and the Chamber is looking forward to returning to providing concerts and celebrations as soon as possible.”
McHan added that social responsibility, and the safety and health of the community have been top priorities for the Chamber during 2020.
“The Chamber and committees and board have spent numerous hours trying to reimagine our annual Halloween,” she said. “It is thousands upon thousands of people that come in a very short time, just a couple of hours. They flood downtown and we love it, but we just simply have not been able to come up with any alternative of how we can hold this event and have that many people in town.”
On a positive note, the Board gave their approval for the Chamber to give the Town a festive look by putting up fall decorations in the medians along Main Street, including haybales, cornstalks, pumpkins, and gourds.
McHan said she reached out to area garden clubs and said they thought it was a great idea and would like to be involved.
Christmas Tree Lighting and Christmas Parade
The Chamber runs into the same large-gathering problems with the annual Christmas Lighting and Parade as they do on Halloween.
However, McHan said staff at the Chamber were getting creative in order to hold scheduled events safely, for example holding a “reverse parade.”
“We’d have the parade like vignettes around town and we could disperse the crowds by having them walk all over town to have them see the various pieces of the parade,” she said. “So that’s one alternative that we thought of that might work just so we can have a parade. I don’t know if we can get the camels to stand still for that long, but we can give it a try.”
She added if the Parade were to happen, the Chamber needs a couple of months to get it organized.
“We really need a couple months at least,” said McHan. “Most of the participants have been long-time participants. It’s a wait and see. My real concern is how many people come in town. We’re just waiting and seeing what’s going to happen.”