Santa Claus is still coming to town this year, but in a COVID-friendly way.
The jolly old elf will visit Candy Cane Lane – a new initiative aimed at turning 100 Mile House into a Christmas village to promote local business in the wake of COVID-19. With the traditional Santa Claus Parade and Moonlight Madness events cancelled this year, the initiative encourages businesses to decorate their stores and light up 100 Mile House to get into the Christmas spirit and get more people to shop locally.
“We are calling it Candy Cane Lane,” said Free Press publisher Martina Dopf, who initiated the campaign with Janet Lilly. “We invited Santa and he agreed to come. He’s pretty excited.”
Candy Cane Lane will officially open on Nov. 20 with a ribbon-cutting, which will be live-streamed on social media to reduce the number of people gathering in one place. Santa will also arrive that day and will be available for a limited number of photos with children outside a festive cabin at the 100 Mile Community Hall on Friday, Nov. 20 from 2-6 p.m. and Saturday, Nov. 21 from 12-4 p.m.
Pre-registration is required for photos with Santa at 100milesanta.com on a first-come-first-serve. The photos are $20 and will include a few digital copies but no prints.
Photographer Monika Paterson said due to the COVID-19, Santa will remain inside the cabin on-site while the children can visit at the door. Physical distancing rules will be enforced at all times.
“Sadly they won’t be able to sit on Santa’s knee but they will be able to chat with him at the door and let him know what they want for Christmas,” Patterson said.
Lilly, owner of Our Kitchen Corner, said many businesses are planning to light up and decorate this Christmas, which she hopes will become a trend, turning 100 Mile into “one of those cool northern towns.” Some businesses are also planning to stay open until 9 p.m. while the kitchen store will have sales all weekend to provide more opportunities for shoppers so they don’t have to wait outside in the cold.
The public will also be encouraged to vote online for the businesses with the most festive decorations and will be included in a draw for a gift basket, while there will be trophies and prizes for the top three businesses.
“It’s going to be fun,” Lilly said, adding she would like to see businesses on Highway 97 also participating. “Hopefully next year the parade will be bigger and better than ever and we’ll have the whole town lit up.”
Dopf added: “We’re really hoping everyone will enjoy the Christmas spirit in 100 Mile House.”