Annual tree lighting kicks off holiday season
By: DANIEL WINNINGHAM
Enquirer~Democrat managing editor
Continuing a tradition several years in the making, the Carlinville Chamber of Commerce held a brief tree lighting at the gazebo Nov. 24, providing the annual light display for those to gawk at during their drive (or walk) around the Square.
The reigning Carlinville queens
introduced themselves and began a countdown…5…4…3…2…1 and then the lights were turned on.
In years past, the Chamber has invited a local preschool to sing Thanksgiving or Christmas-themed songs from the steps of the gazebo and also provided hot chocolate. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic put a halt to any idea of those traditions this year.
However, residents should be pleased that with the lights turned on, it now feels a little more like Christmas, according to Chamber president Tim Rhodus.
“Every year, and I think moreso in 2020, Christmas, the lights coming on, it’s just gives us hope, it’s Christmas time. Everything is still the same. It’s still tough year, there is still all kinds of uncertainty, chaos. A lot of people are just really grateful it’s Christmas season. They want to see lights on. Our Rotary Club does an amazing job with the lights on the Square every year.
Rhodus acknowledge that it was not the same as in past years.
“This year’s (lighting ceremony) was a little different with COVID. Rhodus said. “We didn’t have the preschools out to sing. We didn’t have the crowd. Our queens did a great job. I think for people driving through the Square and seeing the lights on, it’s something people look forward to. We can’t do everything we used to do. We can’t do Christmas Market stuff. That won’t be the same. The lights will be the same and that’ll be pretty.”
No Santa apperance
Perhaps one of the most familiar photo opportunities – children seated on Santa’s lap – will be on hiatus for this 2020 holiday season.
Due the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Santa Claus didn’t make his annual arrival atop a Carlinville Fire engine, nor was he available to greet visitors in the red Santa house.
“There will not be Santa in the Santa house,” Rhodus noted.
Mayor Sarah Oswald, not in attedance at the Nov. 24 event, provided the following statement.
“The holiday season in Carlinville will be far, far different than holiday seasons of recent memory, and annual activities on the Square and at Cross Church have been cancelled in the name of safety. Also missing this year is a woman who absolutely loved Christmastime in Carlinville, our late mayor, Deanna Demuzio. Deanna always loved the Christmas Market and even served as a co-chair of the Market back in the 1990s. One of Deanna’s absolute favorite duties as mayor was to be at this event here tonight. She loved hearing the children sing, fliping on the lights as mayor and watching Santa Claus come up East Main Street on the back of a Carlinville Fire Department truck to greet a square full of smiling kids waiting to get their chance to tell Santa what they wanted for Christmas.
While Christmas may feel a bit different, thanks to the hard work put in the Rotary Club, Carlinville will still look exactly like it has in Christmases past. This year, more than ever, a tirp out of the house to drive around town and look at the lights can provide safe holiday cheer and also some much-needed relief from the joys of e-learning. While there won’t be tents on the square or vendors out at the church, I would like to take this time to encourage everyone to support our local business community this holiday season whenever you can. Gift certificates from local businesses make great stocking stuffers, take out from our wonderful restaurants can make your holiday cooking much easier and between shops like Main Street Florist, Olde, Crowe Boot & Shoe Co. and others all around the community, there is a perfect gift for everyone on your list that can be purchased right here in Carlinville.”
“I think we can all agree that 2020 has been an absolute Grinch of a yaer. So, with that said, it is fitting to close with the closing words of Dr. Seuss in “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.”
“Welcome Christmas, bring your cheer, Cheer to all Whos, far and near.
Christmas Day is in our grasp
So long as we have hands to grasp.
Christmas Day will always be
Just as long as we have we
Welcome Christmas while we stand
Heart to heart and hand in hand.”