The following is a press release issued by the City of Ukiah:
This Holiday Season is being influenced by the pandemic, but the City of Ukiah is committed to keeping the Joy of the season and the Holiday spirit alive. Although the Ukiah Parade of Lights will not happen, the City is sponsoring a number of events in its place including the Downtown After Dinner Promenade, the “Let It Glow” Holiday Lightning Competition and “Santas and Sirens.”
The Downtown After Dinner Promenade is an invitation to come down town for an after dinner walk on Tuesday evenings. Participants can choose their own start time and location and walk along a half mile route to be outside, get some fresh air, and maybe enjoy a socially distanced, time-limited encounter with friends and neighbors. Each week the promenade will feature a new children’s story with enlarged pages from popular picture books posted along the route.
The City’s Senior Recreation Coordinator Marianne Davison is leading the effort. “We were concerned, because the Ukiah Parade of Lights is so popular, it would create unhealthy gatherings so we wanted to find festive outdoor activities that people could share without being too close together.” The City is collaborating with the County’s Children’s Librarian Samantha White to organize the Story Walks portion of the event.
Participants are encouraged to walk on School St from Stanley down to Seminary Drive, walk up to City Hall where there will be a Santa’s Sleigh display then head north on Pine St to Stephenson then walk back on the other side of School St.
“More than ever during the Holidays, we need opportunities for safe alternatives for social interactions with friends and neighbors,” said City Manager Sage Sangiacomo. “If you’re out enjoying this activity, you’re likely going to have the opportunity to touch base with someone you know and can do so as long as you are wearing a mask, keep it brief, and stay at least 6 feet apart.”
All the events were planned so as to be low risk activities with little risk of creating gatherings or spreading infection while providing physical, emotional, and social benefits to community members. At this point it appears these activities are consistent with the emerging “Shelter in Place” guidelines that may come into play if ICU vacancy levels become too limited.
Many of the people who previously helped with the Ukiah Parade of Lights are helping with this year’s pandemic influenced events. Mendocino Redwood Company, the Ukiah Networking Agency, the Greater Ukiah Business and Tourism Alliance, the Pear Tree Center, and the City’s Electric Utility Department are all helping to keep this Holiday season festive.
Alex Thomas Plaza has its traditional tree and lights, and light poles have once again been turned into candy canes. Perkins St has been decorated with holiday displays that are perfect for “selfies,” and City Hall is illuminated.
The Santa’s and Sirens event will be on the 12th and a police car, fire truck, MedStar Ambulance, and the Mendocino Transit Authority trolley will also be on hand with Santa and his sleigh. “The Santa display will be up in front of City Hall soon. People can sign up for a time to have their pictures taken with a physically distanced Santa and sleigh in the background,” said Davison.
The Let It Glow” Holiday Lights competition already has over sixty households signed up to compete for bragging rights as the best lit house in the Ukiah Valley. Rebates for energy efficient lights are available from the City of Ukiah’s Electric Utility Department. The map of homes entered in the competition is available on Facebook and at the City of Ukiah’s website. Judging is by public vote, details for this are also on the website.
“Of course, you can use the map and drive around to see the “Let it Glow” homes,” stated Davison, “but we also hope people will get out and walk the neighborhoods where there’s a lot of homes participating. It seems like a lot more people are lighting up their houses this year, so it’s a great year to get out the hot chocolate and walk around the neighborhoods, maybe even sing some carols along the way!”