A big tree in Esther Short Park will still shine bright for the holidays, but the Rotary Club of Vancouver pulled the plug on its annual Community Tree Lighting Ceremony.
Tom Iberle, who chairs the Rotary’s tree lighting committee, knew any kind of large public gathering wasn’t going to be wise during the COVID-19 pandemic. One estimate said last year’s ceremony drew 2,000 people while another said 5,000.
“The city really encouraged us to go in a different direction and not plan on bringing people together during the day after Thanksgiving,” Iberle said.
Typically, the tree lighting happens on Black Friday alongside a concert and holiday market inside the Hilton Vancouver Washington — also canceled this year due to the pandemic.
Still, people can go down to the park to enjoy the lights starting Thanksgiving Day. This year, Rotary and its contractor J & J Roofing selected a tree across from the bell tower and adjacent to Columbia Street, so people can enjoy the lights from their cars, too. Driving around to see holiday lights may prove more popular this year with so many events postponed or canceled.
A filmed countdown with Santa Claus will be posted online Friday for those who want to remotely participate in the tree lighting tradition, Iberle said. Anyone visiting the tree over the holiday season is encouraged to social distance and wear a mask if a lot of people are around.
Due to the ongoing pandemic and in the interest of protecting its employees, Clark Public Utilities will not be decorating other smaller trees in Esther Short Park this year.