Tunkhannock’s ‘Christmas In Our Hometown’ celebration was scaled back Saturday because of COVID-19, but that didn’t make people stay away.
Lead organizer Nancy Parlo said that she was “thrilled with the turnout, and even without the big Friday night celebration, that people were still extremely happy.”
Parlo, who is director of the Tunkhannock Business and Professional Association which has staged the event for more than two decades, said that families seemed to enjoy getting out and journeying through the historic downtown to kick off the holiday season.
The highlight of the event was a visit from Santa Claus, and a couple of his reindeer, that were leased from a farm in Bloomsburg. Kids were still able to see Santa socially distanced behind a plexiglass door, and tell him what they wanted for Christmas.
“The reaction to the event has been great,” Parlo added. “People have been very respectful of each other, wearing their masks and social distancing. Everyone that I have talked to has been very happy.”
Eileen Barziloski, owner of Ebb’s Candy Jar and Winter Wonderland, was thankful for all the traffic that she saw coming through her shop.
“This Hometown event is a gesture of good will to thank all of the people for supporting us throughout the year,” Barziloski said. “I am very blessed that even in a pandemic to have so many people enjoying the store, because it has been a rough year for all of us.”
Mercantile 22 on Tioga Street, was another business that saw a big influx of customers, co-owner Lisa Tizzoni was also very thankful for the community’s support.
“We had a lot of people who came in here today and said that they found the perfect Christmas gift for someone in their family,” Tizzoni said. “This is the busiest that the store has been in a while, and it is truly special to see.”
The crowd for the event was mostly locals, but Parlo noted that she had seen a number of people from outside the area as well, which brings more revenue to the local businesses.
Although some of the main events of ‘Christmas In Our Hometown’ like a large tree-lighting ceremony, live nativity, and horse drawn carriage rides could not happen because of social distancing measures, TBPA President Mark Monsey still called the event a huge success.
“We had to dig deep into our brains to plan this year’s event,” Monsey said. “But to see across the street with Santa and the reindeer, along with ice carvings that were beautiful, the businesses were all receptive and participating.”
Monsey added, “Even in the hard times of today, you can’t crush people’s holiday spirits.”
“The people who were here today showed that people want to be out and celebrate the holidays,” Monsey said. “It’s a lot different, but still a very happy thing to see.”