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Alpena preps for different kind of holiday kickoff

News Photo by Crystal Nelson Santa’s house is pictured Sunday at Culligan Plaza in downtown Alpena.

ALPENA — Downtown Alpena’s holiday kickoff will be a little different this year.

Alpena Downtown Development Authority Executive Director Anne Gentry said Christmas tree lighting in Culligan Plaza will not be held and that there will not be in-person visits with Santa at his house this year.

The Christmas tree lighting is traditionally held after the Bolenz Jewelry Holiday Parade, but the Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce on Nov. 16 announced the parade was cancelled because of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services epidemic order.

Families will still be able to visit the city’s Christmas tree at their leisure and DDA officials are planning virtual events with Santa. Gentry said they are planning to hold a couple of Facebook live events with Santa, however the details are still being worked out, and that more information will be available this week.

“We tried to adapt to still host some of these events,” Gentry said. “Even a few weeks ago we thought maybe we could do something in person this year but then with the rising cases and the new restrictions, we decided the most responsible thing is not to do the in-person.”

Gentry said Santa’s house got a little bit of a refresh this year as Clark Construction Company repainted the exterior of the building, and “spiffed it up a little bit.”

Gentry said the construction company also added a few decorations and redid the box where kids can still drop their letters to Santa off. She said kids “really look forward to seeing Santa and telling him what they want” and that parents love to bring their kids to see Santa.

Gentry said the parade and tree lighting ceremony are important to the community and so it required some creative, out of the box thinking to figure out how to keep some of these important community traditions.

“Of course next year we hope to be back in person to do them how we usually do them,” she said.

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