With the COVID-19 guidelines, Christmas will be a little different for all this year. One of the items on the Yucaipa City Council agenda on Nov. 9, was to ring in the Christmas Spirit into Yucaipa in a little different style than in years past.
Community Services Supervisor Mary Johnson presented an example of what the 2020 WinterFest Light Show could look like if council approved it. Council approved the $25,000 expenditure, along with planning a few other Yucaipa Christmas events to go along with the regular traditions.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and current state and county of San Bernardino health guidelines, all gatherings are prohibited until further notice, except as otherwise specifically permitted in state public health directives. Gatherings are defined by the state as meetings or other events that bring together persons from more than three households at the same time for a shared or group experience in a single room, space, or place such as an auditorium, stadium, arena, large conference room, meeting hall, or other indoor or outdoor space.
The Uptown Association was in favor of an activity taking place to help increase foot traffic in the area and provide an activity for the community consistent with current COVID-19 guidelines.
The Christmas parade has been canceled, therefore Johnson along with the Community Services Department went before the council and recommended a WinterFest Light Show at the Yucaipa Performing Arts Center (YPAC).
The light show will be displayed outside on the YPAC outdoor stage door. Council approved the show and it will take place every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 6 p.m. to 10 pm. from Dec. 4 to Dec 27. The light show will provide community members and visitors the opportunity to drive to the Historic Uptown to view a holiday light show all while following COVID-19 state and county orders.
Johnson said, “This is a show on a loop and it will give the community an opportunity to come during the times it is playing and visit the restaurants and breweries Uptown.”
City Manger Ray Casey said, “We have submitted a plan to the county for a level of gathering in front of the outdoor stage with folks being segregated into family pods in an effort to meet social distancing guidelines as they evolve in the near future.”
Casey continued with, “The county has conditionally supported that plan, subject to the state adjusting its guidelines for us in this county. If we do move to the red tier in the near future and the state adjusts its guidelines relative to gatherings and social distancing a little bit for us in this county, then we have a plan that is pre-approved from the county subject to state approval.”
Mayor Pro Tem Denise Allen said, “I think that is going to be awesome and very creative. A couple of things that we always have done since we have been doing the WinterFest that we should probably figure out a way to pull off is our tree lighting with a designated day and time to make it official by switching it on. We always bring Santa in on a firetruck and it seems like we might be able to pull that off as well.”
Councilmember Greg Bogh said, “If this is something that is set on a loop, it isn’t necessarily an event, why would we have to apply for permission from the county.”
Casey commented, “We don’t for the light show but if we want to do something that is more a gathering-like as Mayor Pro Tem Allen was referring to (tree lighting and Santa visit), that is the kind of thing we would have to get permission from the county. ”
Mayor David Avila said, “Maybe to supplement some of the things that councilmembers here have indicated, maybe we can do a little more in terms of making it more festive Uptown with more lighting, more decorations, something that gives it a reason for people to walk around and to look at things.”
Avila also said, “I think also maybe the Uptown businesses could do something too. Again, more lighting, something more festive. Something that draws the public’s attention to their businesses and this might be a sideways opportunity to get more business into the different shops and stores that we have in the Uptown. Just make it a 1955 style downtown dress-up.”
Casey suggested that if council felt the city needed to add more lights and decorations to the Uptown area, it should be added to the budget request.
Allen added, “Seeing how we haven’t been able to do any special events and this is just such a magical time of the year and it has always been an event that has been so well received by the members of our community, it is heartbreaking. Every year I look forward to it. We can’t bring this season of celebration to our community and it is just sad. So whatever we can do.”