A surge in COVID-19 cases has prompted the Downtown Paris Association to cancel several upcoming Christmas events for safety reasons.

On Friday, Travis McLeese, executive director of the DPA, announced that North Pole Family Fun Day, the downtown Advent Walk and the Holly Jolly Electric Christmas Parade had been canceled this year after a meeting by the DPA’s executive board.

“It is vital that we do everything possible to support all of our local businesses through these challenging times,” McLeese said. “At this moment, the best way to support local businesses is to help them stay open and to assist our health care community by promoting social distancing and eliminating our events that would cause people to gather in large groups.”

And while Santa’s house on the court square was in place as of Friday and ready for his visit, his arrival is currently slated to take place in early December, and not the day after Thanksgiving as is customary on North Pole Family Fun Day.

According to McLeese, the organization hopes to have Santa in his house and available to meet children starting from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 5.

After his arrival, he is scheduled to be ready to meet children from 2-4 p.m. Dec. 6 and Dec. 13; and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 3-5 p.m. Dec. 12.

Santa’s house, which is a familiar sight in Henry County during the holiday season, has been remodeled by the shop class taught by John Harrison at Henry County High School.

The house now includes a Dutch door, that will allow children to visit with Santa without coming in direct contact with him.

According to current plans, a Christmas Festival with modified activities has been tentatively scheduled for Santa’s visit on Dec. 12. In place of the Advent Walk, a video is currently in production that will highlight the local religious community and celebrate the Advent season.

The DPA has also developed a Christmas light platform that will allow locals to submit their residential or commercial Christmas light displays onto a digital site. Once submitted, others will be able to access the database and through GPS technology will be able to experience lights throughout the community.

One Christmas tradition that remains intact is the Festival of Trees, which will open on Tuesday at the Old 5 &10 Event Center at 110 W. Washington St. The display of holiday cheer is scheduled to run through Dec. 16.

“We appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding,” McLeese said. “I can assure you that we are doing everything we can to make decisions that are in the best interest of the entire community.”

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