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  • Writer's pictureCity of Charlestown

Charlestown In-Person Holiday Events & Activities Canceled for 2020 Season due to COVID-19

After careful consideration of the recent dramatic increases in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations occurring locally and throughout our state it is with deep sadness that the City of Charlestown must announce the cancellation of some of our City sponsored holiday events.

This has been a difficult decision to make and we know that it comes with enormous disappointment not only to our local families, but to those who visit Charlestown from other communities to share the joy of the holiday season with their friends and family members as well as to our staff, sponsors, and vendors who have invested much of their time in preparation for your enjoyment.

This is not a decision that has been made lightly. We have taken into consideration all available health data, conversations with local Health Department representatives, guidance offered by the State Department of Health, and recommended practices given in Governor Holcomb’s most recent executive order. Since the beginning of November, we have witnessed exponential growth in positive COVID-19 tests that took us to record shattering totals of new positive cases over 8,000 this weekend. These new cases are resulting in higher hospitalization rates than we witnessed this Spring and mortality rates are beginning to climb as well. Our state seven-day positivity rate has returned to over 20%. Clark County moves in the same direction. Projections for our county show that gatherings of only 50 people have a 71% chance that at least one person in attendance will be an active carrier of the COVID-19 virus. The gravity of this situation means that it would be irresponsible to place our staff, residents, and visitors in jeopardy of contracting the virus, and we have a duty to do what we can to help mitigate further spread.

City staff have not been spared contact with the virus. To date, we have had ten positive COVID-19 cases among our limited staff, and currently we have five people out with active cases. Like many of you who have contracted the virus, some have had minimal or no symptoms, but others have been very ill. We are thankful that four have fully recovered and we are hopeful that all other active cases are on their way to recovery and return.

The impact of this pandemic has tested our flexibility and patience as we’ve all had to endure the impacts of required quarantines for exposure to positive cases. Despite the challenges, our staff members have worked hard to fill in where needed to prepare for our traditional holiday celebrations that allow us to be the Christmas City everyone knows and loves. This cancellation is especially hard for them.

The good news is that our annual animated light show on the City Square and beautiful light display in Greenway Park will still be available for everyone to enjoy. We ask only that you view the lights with members of your family while practicing safe social distancing from members of other households. We hope you will take lots of photos as you enjoy the lights and share them with us on social media using #CharlestownChristmas2020 so we can celebrate along with you.


· Light Up Charlestown Ceremonies – scheduled for Friday, November 27. Lights in Greenway Park and the animated light show on the City Square will begin that evening as scheduled at 6:00 pm but no additional in-person ceremonies will occur. A virtual event will broadcast on our City’s Facebook page.

· Winterwald Holiday Market (originally set to replace ice skating this year) – scheduled for November 27th thru December 19th on Thursday-Saturday evenings will unfortunately be canceled this year. We encourage you to shop local this holiday season by patronizing their Facebook pages, Etsy shops, etc. and to purchase local gift cards.

· Concession Stands – No concessions will be sold at the Family Activity Center or Greenway Park this season. Please consider patronizing one of our local Charlestown restaurants for take-out instead.

· Ice Skating and Mini Golf – No ice skating or mini golf will occur this year at the Family Activity Center.

The following holiday events are tentatively cancelled – In order for these events to occur, Clark County must have a COVID-19 risk metric rating of 1-1.5 and be in “yellow” status as determined by the Indiana Department of Health (currently we are at 2.5 with an “orange” rating):

· Charlestown Express Train Rides

· Greenway Park Carriage Rides

*If county metrics meet the criteria, tickets for train and carriage rides will only be available for purchase in advance via online ticketing. County metric ratings will be reviewed each Wednesday as they are updated and if Clark County is in “yellow” status, tickets will go on sale Wednesday evening at 6pm – Friday evening at 5pm.

Limited tickets are available for each night. Train and Carriage rides, if metrics allow, will run on Friday and Saturday nights from 6pm-10pm. Only one household of up to 6 members will be allowed in each train car or carriage. Guests must arrive 15 minutes prior to their scheduled time and follow directions for boarding from staff. Face masks or shields that cover mouth and nose are required for all people over age 2 without exceptions.

This holiday season will be challenging for us all. Right now, the most important thing we can do is focus our efforts on helping our community cope with the effects of this pandemic. How can we help get through this? Shop with local vendors and business owners by safely purchasing their products as gifts, meals, treats, or services. Check up on your family and friends who are high risk and run errands for them if needed so they can remain safe at home. Mask up, keep your physical distance, and adjust holiday gatherings to reflect the reality of the danger that unmitigated spread of this virus presents our high-risk neighbors.

You might use the metric available at this link to assess the risk of your personal holiday plans.

Charlestown has had to do difficult and uncomfortable things for the benefit of our broader community before, and there is no doubt we will step up over the next few months and do it again. Stay safe as we work together as a community through these difficult times.

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