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COVID forces adjustments to Lansing holiday traditions

Trees planned at Fox Pointe, none at Historical Society, no Santa pancake breakfast

By Josh Bootsma

LANSING, Ill. (November 17, 2020) – As Lansing enters the holiday season amid surging COVID-19 numbers, holiday traditions have been forced to butt heads with public safety. Lansing organizations, families, and businesses are asking the question: How can we celebrate the holidays—a season that is usually rooted in social interaction—in a way that serves the best interests of public health? For some, cancellation is the answer. For others, modification. The Lansing community will experience both during the upcoming holiday season.

Lansing Historical Society trees

Since 1981, the basement of the Lansing Public Library, which houses the Lansing Historical Society, has been transformed from a historical museum into a multicultural grove of decorated Christmas trees. This year, however, due to a combination of COVID safety concerns and the Library basement being closed to renovation, the Christmas Around the World celebration will not take place.

The annual multicultural holiday tradition usually lasts about a month and last year featured roughly 35 displays, most representing a cultural background or heritage. There are also nativity displays from around the world, as well as recipe and clothing displays. This year, however, the Lansing Historical Society will have to fit all of its cultural diversity on one tree—to be displayed at Fox Pointe in December.

holiday traditions
The Lansing Historical Society’s Christmas Around the World exhibit will not take place this year. Instead, the Historical Society will participate in a new Lansing holiday tradition and represent as many countries as possible on its Fox Pointe tree. (Photo provided, 2019)

Curator of the Lansing Historical Society Museum Barb Dust said she was reaching out to people who have provided trees in the past to help with ideas for the Fox Pointe tree. “I’ve contacted all the people who have done their own heritage” she said, “and I asked them, ‘What’s the best symbol for your country’s Christmas celebration?’ And now we’re making ornaments that will be weatherproof to symbolize that. So we’ve got our people working on ornaments, and we’ll still represent most of our countries, but in a different way. But we will miss the traditional display, for sure.”

Fox Pointe holiday tree decoration

The Village of Lansing will be turning Fox Pointe into a winter wonderland this December and is inviting the public to be a part of the transformation. The Village is hosting a new holiday tradition—a display of trees at the event venue decorated by Lansing businesses, organizations, and families.

For $50, participants can secure a Balsam Fir that comes with lights. No additional lights may be added, but participants are free to decorate the tree with whatever else they would like. Applications for the tree display are due on or before November 30 at the Lansing Municipal Center (3141 Ridge Road).

After sponsoring a tree, participants are invited to decorate their tree in the Fox Pointe venue from November 27 through December 4, from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. In addition to the trees and lights, the Village will also provide signs to identify the trees and their sponsors. Based on how Fox Pointe is already being set up for the event, it appears the trees will be displayed similarly to the scarecrows that were displayed at the venue in late October.

holiday traditions
Fox Pointe is already beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Holiday trees will be displayed similarly to the scarecrows in late October. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)

On Saturday, December 5 from 5:00–7:00 p.m., the Village will host a tree lighting ceremony and open the tree display to the public. The event will also debut the new Village Christmas Tree and feature a Santa appearance at 6:00 p.m. A photo area will be set up near the entrance of Fox Pointe for the public to take pictures in Santas’s sleigh.

The venue will be open for the public to view the trees and decorations December 7–23, from 3:00–8:00 p.m., and again from December 26-30 during the same hours.

During Tuesday night’s Village Board meeting, Village Communications Director Ken Reynolds said, “The sad news from my end is that we’ve made the decision that we just cannot have a Santa House this year. We simply looked at it from every possible angle, and we’ve made the decision we feel is in the best interest of everyone.” In years past, dozens of eager visitors waited to spend a minute or two with Santa inside the small, enclosed Santa House, a beloved event that does not pass public health regulations this year. The Santa House will still be decorated on the outside, however.

holiday traditions
Holiday traditions like this one in 2019, during which people stood close together and entered a small, enclosed space to visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus, aren’t viable this year. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma, 2019)

More information about the event can be found at www.foxpointe.org or by visiting the Fox Pointe Facebook page.

Chamber’s breakfast with Santa / Family Giving Program

In past years, the Lansing Area Chamber of Commerce has hosted hundreds for a pancake breakfast with Santa. The proceeds of the event, which exceeded $2,000 in previous years, goes directly to the Chamber’s Family Giving Program, through which the Chamber partners with social workers at all the Lansing elementary schools in Districts 158 and 171 to help at least one family from each school.

This year, however, the highly social pancake breakfast has been cancelled, meaning the Chamber will not have the financial means to help families as it usually does. Lansing Chamber Director Amy Todd called the cancellation “very unfortunate.”

holiday traditions
Santa, Copper Muggers, and Chamber members pose in the TF South dining room before serving hungry guests at the 2018 pancake breakfast. The fundraising breakfast will not take place this year. (Photo: Maureen Grady-Perovich, 2018)


Josh Bootsma
Josh Bootsma
Josh is Managing Editor at The Lansing Journal and believes in the power and purpose of community news. He covers any local topics—from village government to theatre, from business openings to migratory birds.