City to continue tree lighting plans

TROY — The city of Troy is moving forward with its own Holiday Tree Lighting event despite new state recommendations to limit crowds to 10 and against the advice of the Miami County Public Health Commissioner.

Miami County Public Health Commissioner Dennis Propes said, “Miami County Health would like everyone to think twice about their holiday plans. Anytime you’re with people outside your circle, you increase the risk of getting COVID, so maybe the large extended family Thanksgiving/Christmas dinners may not be the best ideal. We don’t want to put our family members at risk and want them around for years to come.

“Regarding the Christmas tree lighting, in light of the increase in positive cases and the county moving to ‘Red,’ we have strongly encouraged the city of Troy not to have the event as planned.”

However, the city of Troy is hosting its own Holiday Tree Lighting event beginning at 6:15 p.m. Friday, Nov. 27 on the Public Square in downtown Troy.

Troy Main Street will not be providing the annual “Santa House” for children to visit with Santa this year. The organization canceled its part in hosting the Grand Illumination earlier this month.

“Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Troy Main Street is sad to announce the Grand Illumination has been canceled for 2020,” Troy Main Street stated on its Facebook page. “After conversations with Miami County Public Health, they were not able to approve the event, therefore the Troy Main Street board has decided not to move forward with Grand Illumination. We know this is a long-standing and much-loved event for Troy. TMS looks forward to hosting the Grand Illumination again in 2021. We are working with the Miami County Public Health to find ways to protect Santa, his elves, and all of his fans.”

After the city received the notice that Troy Main Street wasn’t able to host the event, Oda said it was then that the city stepped in to “fill the void.”

On Nov. 11, Oda said in an email, “I am always concerned about the safety, health, and well-being of our citizens and residents. That concern goes beyond COVID-19 (or any other illness). Activities and traditions, the ability to be out and about and to participate in life are equally important. Our businesses and restaurants are dependent on our being out and about living our lives. While I am aware that the numbers are going up, it is expected with the increased testing. However, I am not in favor of shutting down our lives, our businesses, our restaurants, our schools. I will always press forward on this.”

Oda said much of the tradition of the Christmas tree lighting will continue, including Christmas carols, Santa arriving on a fire truck, and the tree and levee lights going live around 7 p.m.

Children will be able to “socially visit” with Santa, who will be on the stage following the illumination. A gift bag for each child will be available.

“The city learned on Nov. 5th that the original ‘Grand Illumination’ was canceled. We immediately jumped in to fill the void to make sure an outdoor tree-lighting event takes place the day after Thanksgiving,” Oda said. “The city is aware of the health department concerns and recommendations, and will always give those our consideration.”

Oda said city officials are aware of the mask and social distancing efforts. Residents will see reminders around the Public Square, and commemorative masks will be available.

“The Public Square is quite large and able to accommodate any who choose to come out for a little bit of Christmas. We assume that those who are not comfortable being out will choose to watch the tree-lighting on the city’s live webcam,” Oda said.

The city’s live webcam is available at https://www.troyohio.gov/542/Downtown-Live-Webcam.

“COVID spikes will come and go as we move forward and learn about this virus and how to live with it. We don’t take it lightly, but we will continue to live life and do business, with caution, as appropriate,” Oda said.

Propes provided the following website link for CDC guidance around the holiday season https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/holidays.html .