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Visits with Santa are one holiday activity that is in question this year due to the pandemic. (Photo by John Blodgett)

It appears that COVID-19 has brought a blast of “bah-humbug” to the holiday season in Jefferson County.

As with many events this year, most Thanksgiving and Christmas activities have been cancelled.

In the spring, when the pandemic was just getting off the ground, many were hopeful that by November and December holiday events could proceed as usual.

It didn’t turn out that way.

Rather than fade away over the summer, COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the county, and across the state. As a result, organizers have simply shelved their plans, and are hopeful that things will look brighter next year.

The City of Boulder is scheduled to light its Christmas tree on Dec. 11, along with a visit from Santa, but those plans depend upon a health plan being approved by the Jefferson County Health Board, according to City Council member Michael “Bear” Taylor.

The Boulder Area Chamber of Commerce canceled its annual holiday bazaar, which was scheduled for Nov. 21 at Jefferson High School.

The Boulder United Methodist Women typically host a bake sale, featuring apples pies, at Madison Valley Bank, but that too, has been cancelled.

“Plan B is to have a “bakeless” bake sale. We will donate the amount of money we would have spent on ingredients instead,” said organizer Marilyn Craft of the long list of organizations it supports.

Craft said the Boulder Kiwanis is also canceling its annual Community Christmas dinner, which included Santa Claus and the Grinch.

“We are sad that this event will not happen this year as it is a wonderful time for folks to visit and enjoy a time of community,” she said.

School Christmas concerts and pageants have been canceled at Boulder, Clancy and Montana City schools. Jefferson High School is looking to broadcast some virtual concerts, said JHS Principal Mike Moodry.

Jefferson City has a visit from Santa Claus the first Saturday in December, but that remains up in the air, said Jefferson City Volunteer Fire Department Chief Bud Siderits.

Still on is Toys for Tots, with applications available at the Jefferson County Public Health Department.

The Whitehall Christmas Stroll did not have its health plan approved by the Health Department, said Whitehall Chamber of Commerce President John Kreis at the Nov. 12 Community Transition Advisory Committee meeting.

There was some disappointment, but it is understandable, given what’s going on in the community, he said of a rise of COVID-19 cases in the town.

Kreis said the Chamber is now looking at events that won’t draw a crowd, such as a light contest.

Bruce Binkowski, who heads up Jefferson County Events, said that most folks are looking forward to 2021, and locally, the busy season begins here in June. His office uses the winter to gear up for the next year’s events, as well as do maintenance at the fairgrounds. He’s taken a peek at some events for next year, such as the Governor’s Cup Race scheduled for June 11-12, and reports that they are already on the calendar. Add to that news of a possible vaccine, and next year may be an improvement.

“People will hunker down for the winter and hit the ground running in the spring,” said Binkowski.

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