Unfortunately, Santa has now fallen victim to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing protocols. Santa will not be visiting with children in his house on the courthouse square in Bryan this year.
Bryan Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Dan Yahraus made the announcement at Thursday’s Williams County commissioner meeting.
Yahraus told commissioners the decision was necessary in the face of the pandemic, and the fact that the very nature of the Santa visits puts Santa and children in close proximity, and potentially at risk to their health.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state and county health professionals recommend maintaining six feet of distance from others when possible during the pandemic, which spreads mainly from person to person, typically through respiratory droplets from coughing, sneezing or talking.
The Bryan chamber’s Christmas Committee hosts Santa and Santa’s House every year.
“It’s very disappointing. I’m disappointed personally and the whole Christmas Committee is crushed. But it’s a decision we had to make in the face of this (pandemic),” Yahraus told The Bryan Times after the meeting.
“Santa is very interactive, so it’s for his benefit as well as (the children and) everyone else,” Yahraus said, adding it’s the first time Santa’s House has not been on the courthouse square in his more than two decades as chamber director.
Yahraus did say that all the rest of the traditional Christmas decorations will be placed on the square as in past years. The Chamber Christmas Committee will bring the figurines and other decorations to the square Saturday, Nov. 7, and the community set-up is early Sunday morning, Nov. 8. Community members are invited to participate in setting up the figurines, beginning early on Sunday morning.
In addition, Yahraus said the Christmas Committee is replacing the electric sockets and stringers on the Christmas lights that are strung between the top of the courthouse and the square.
“Both the stringers and sockets have been in use since before I joined the chamber 22 years ago,” Yahraus said.
In addition, he said the committee is seeking donations from the community to replace the lights on the stringers.
Yahraus said Town & Country in Bryan has committed to providing the sockets “at cost” to the committee — “we are purchasing local,” he said — but the Christmas Committee is still seeking about $4,000 from the community to cover new stringers, sockets and lights.
Bryan Municipal Utilities will again assist with the Christmas lights this year, Yahraus said.
For questions or to make a donation, call the chamber at 419-636-2247, visit the office at 138 S. Lynn St., Bryan, or email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.