Holtville High School shields and tall flags drill team members perform while the high school’s band plays in the background during the Christmas in the Park event in 2018. The event was cancelled this year due to concerns over the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in California. | FILE PHOTO

County Restrictions Prompt Cancellation of Farmers Market

HOLTVILLE — The city of Holtville’s plans to host a combined Christmas in the Park, annual tree-lighting ceremony and farmers market on Thursday, Dec. 3, at Holt Park were upended by an advisement from the Imperial County Environmental Health Services Division prohibiting farmers markets.

Holtville student musicians (from left) Beatrice Yanez, Molly Turner, Leila Aragon, and Analisa Imperial perform during the Christmas in the Park event in 2018. The event was cancelled this year due to concerns over the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in California. | FILE PHOTO

The notification from the county department was made on Monday, Nov. 23, and prompted city officials to consider the possibility of at least hosting a virtual tree-lighting ceremony, City Manager Nick Wells told the City Council during its Monday, Nov. 23, regular meeting.

Wells said he was partially advised of the indefinite prohibition in the afternoon by a fellow city employee but was short on details, and therefore, couldn’t provide the City Council with a clear explanation of the county’s rationale.  

“I’m guessing it’s because of the spike (in COVID-19 cases),” Wells told the council.

The prohibition against the farmers market effectively shutters the tree-lighting ceremony and Christmas in the Park events, which were already pared back significantly because of the ongoing pandemic.

Wells said he anticipated speaking with the city’s event organizer to determine whether a virtual tree-lighting ceremony could still be held in the absence of any crowds.

“I’m going to try to do a Facebook Live thing,” Wells said.

For the event, a city official will typically lead a countdown to the lighting of a decorated Christmas tree that is placed atop an overhang above the entrance to the Civic Center. The tree-lighting ceremony was a rather small affair and typically didn’t warrant its own standalone event, Wells said following the council meeting.

Instead, event organizers, whether it was the city or the Holtville Chamber of Commerce, would often pair the event with the annual Christmas in the Park, which featured local school choirs singing Christmas songs, raffles, and vendors, Wells said.

Rosie Allegranza, Chamber of Commerce chief executive officer, expressed deep disappointment on Nov. 23 upon being told the combined events were not likely to go forward as planned.

For its part, the chamber was tasked with handling appointments for mask-wearing community members to have their picture taken with Santa Claus during the planned Christmas in the Park event.

“We’re not sure what we’re going to do yet,” Allegranza said.

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