(Fort Wayne, Ind.) Watching Santa light up on the side of a downtown building has been a tradition since the 1930s. Throughout the decades, Fort Wayne’s “Night of Lights” never lost its brilliance. But now, due to safety precautions necessitated by COVID-19, people will have to experience the tradition a different way.
Typically, the day before Thanksgiving in Fort Wayne, Indiana was a night that many gathered to watch officials light a giant vintage Santa and sleigh. However, due to the likelihood of spreading COVID-19, audiences will have to experience the event from afar.
“Night of Lights”: a new tradition this year
Instead of potentially shivering in the November wind with loved ones and strangers, holiday enthusiasts can stay warm and watch the annual ceremony from the comfort of their homes.
According to WANE-TV, the event will be broadcast at 7 p.m. November 25, 2020. The televised event will not only feature the lighting of this year’s Santa display, but will detail the history of the event.
The move to television is being undertaken because there is no way to keep people six feet away from each other at such a popular event. The likelihood of spreading COVID-19 at such a heavily attended event is great.
The change in how the traditional display is made available to the public (at least during its initial lighting) is another example of the growing lists of new normals that people must get used to in the age of COVID-19.
There are some benefits to staying home. Viewers can control who they want to share the moment with; they can also stay warm. This might turn into a new tradition, as people are likely to make special food to share with those with whom they are viewing the display. Possibly.
Of course, holidays are a time for getting together, and a virus that discourages that is sure to be a bummer for thousands who were maybe counting on the event as an excuse to get out of the house. Still, as city and state officials continue to err on the side of caution, the public will continue to revise their traditions.
“Merry and Bright: A History of the Night of Lights” presented by PNC Bank will air on WANE-TV at 7 p.m. The downtown display is scheduled to remain up and lit until early January 2021.