Fallon modifies this year’s tree lightning
COVID-19 guidelines alter the way city celebrates tradition night
Steve Ranson / LVN
Merry Christmas banners stretch across the major highways within the city limits, but any hope of having a traditional Christmas tree lightning and other activities has been dashed
Bah Humbug! The “Coronavirus Grinch” stole Christmas … or, in Fallon, hometown Christmas.
Mayor Ken Tedford announced Monday that this year’s downtown tree lighting, a tradition since the late 1920s, will have a modified look because of the COVID-10 pandemic. Friday night will also be void of Santa Claus, craft fairs and good cheer for all.
For the past week, Tedford said he’s been talking with his staff, the Churchill County Board of Health and Banner Churchill to determine the best steps to adopt to make any type of downtown Christmas crowd-friendly and safe.
Tedford and his staff discussed placing barricades to keep upward to 1,000 to 1,500 people safe, but that idea was discarded.
“People would just try to get around the barricades,” Tedford said.
Then, Tedford listened to members from the county’s Board of Health.
“The last couple three weeks we’ve had 20 positives a day in Fallon,” Tedford said, adding the number of deaths has jumped from five to 12 in about three weeks. “It’s become concerning to me because my No. 1 priority as mayor is public safety.”
Tedford said Banner Churchill Community Hospital’s board told him the medical facility is at 140% of capacity and 26 beds are occupied. Because of a shortage in the number of healthcare professional in western Nevada, Tedford was told those who fall ill in Fallon with COVID-19 might remain in the county until another medical facility can accept them.
“We couldn’t do the Christmas tree lighting in the ordinary way we have done it in the past,” Tedford said.
Tedford, though, said the city will still light the tree on Maine Street but in a different manner from previous years.
“I know there’s going to be people upset about this. There will be those who understand,” Tedford said. “
Based on what’s occurred in many communities during most of 2020, Tedford said no one should be surprised with the restrictions placed on community activities.
As of Monday, Tedford said the plan is to have former Councilman John Tewell light the tree sometime during Friday afternoon. Tedford also encouraged people to drive by the Christmas tree later in the day and take photos
From 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., he said people may do a drive by on South Carson Street and receive hot chocolate and cookies. Also during that two-hour span, Tedford said individuals or families may pick up a list of residents displaying Christmas lights and drive through the neighborhoods.
Capping off the festivities will be a 37-minute fireworks show beginning at 8 p.m. at the Churchill County Fairgrounds. Tedford said the fireworks will follow the same procedure as the New Year’s Eve display, and people can either stay in their vehicles or practice social distancing and sit in the grandstands. He said he’s contacting the radio station to see if Christmas music may be played during the fireworks.
Tedford also said a suggestion was made to have residents bring ornaments to City Hall, and then a maintenance crew could wire the ornaments to the tree. He said any decision or plan with be placed on the city’s social media sites later in the week.
Another casualty to the pandemic has been the postponement of Saturday’s Churchill Arts Council Reception for the Artists and Holiday Art Bar
Executive director Valeri Serpa said the arts council will reschedule the event to coincide with Michael Sarich’s opening reception for 3X in the spring
and will release updated details when available.