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Hastings cancels Celebration of Lights, trick-or-treat event due to health concerns

Published: Sep. 15, 2020 at 6:04 PM CDT
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HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - The Hastings Downtown Center Association announced they are canceling the annual trick-or-treat event and the Celebration of Lights festival due to health concerns. Both events take place over a couple hours causing a lot of crowding in the streets. For the Celebration of Lights, there are also large groups for performances that were a concern.

“People are packed together really tightly and that of course means we can’t social distance and since we don’t have a mask mandate and people tend to not wear masks sometimes it could be very troubling,” said Tammy Orthmann, Director of the Hastings Downtown Center Association.

Even though the county will move to ‘Phase 4’ this month the association believed it was the safest way to keep the virus from spreading.

“We can’t ask Santa to have several hundred children sit on his lap this year. The same with the rides, the train and horse and buggy, we’d have to disinfect it between each ride so it became really problematic. Our first concern, of course, is when we invite people downtown is to keep them safe,” Orthmann said.

Some have raised the point that some larger events, like the weekly market and Junk Street, were able to happen. Orthmann said social distancing is easier with those events and masks and sanitizer were handed out in some places.

“Junk Street was between 10-4, it was several blocks long, and so people could come at their leisure,” Orthmann said. “We were able to space people out and there wasn’t a sense of urgency that there was with some of the other events we do.”

The loss of the events are a financial hit for some of the businesses, but Orthmann said they do understand the health risks. The holiday lights will still be lit, just without the ceremony. There is no word yet what day the lights will be turned on. Orthmann said she hopes people will still come downtown during the holiday season and enjoy the lights and to make sure that they are shopping locally at the small businesses.

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