It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in downtown Victoria, but it definitely won’t be your typical holiday season.
Almost all of Vancouver Island’s most popular events, like the Santa Light Parade and the lighted truck convoy have been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
And now, even events that had COVID protocols in place — like Butchart Garden’s Magic of Christmas — are cancelled until at least Dec. 7.
“The Butchart Garden light display, among many others that had previously been approved across the province, those are suspended,” says Dr. Bonnie Henry. “We need to monitor what we are doing right now and reduce the potential for social interactions.
Oak Bay had already just made the tough decision to cancel all of its outdoor Christmas markets, what had been organized after other holiday events had to be cancelled.
“It’s hugely disappointing because those events were structured to be safe and to bring people together and still have a sense of community,” says Heather Leary of the Oak Bay Business Improvement Association. “But with cases rising, we couldn’t be sure it would be safe.
Many of the holiday events are important fundraisers, and non-profits are already taking a big hit.
“We’re seeing about $80-million drop in our revenue for this year and that’s about 40 per cent drop of our revenue so we really, really have to get creative,” says Tracey Tang of the Canadian Cancer Society.
With in-person caroling events silenced, the Canadian Cancer Society is holding a virtual sing-a-thon this Thursday to raise funds.
“Cancer doesn’t go away during a pandemic, in fact it’s more important than ever that we support those Canadians who are affected by cancer,” Trang says.
Habitat for Humanity Victoria’s 12th Annual Gingerbread Showcase kicked off on the weekend but the houses are now in local business windows around downtown Victoria and Sidney and people are being asked to vote and donate online.
Oak Bay is also launching a free holiday app for people visiting Oak Bay Village.
“It’s called play magic and people can have some virtual fun, there’s a take a picture with Santa one, you can have a snowball flight with some elves,” Leary explains.
It’s another virtual way to keep the magic of the holidays alive this year when so much is different.