Holiday celebrations face uncertain future in Milford, Harrington

MILFORD — There will be no Milford Community Parade this year, but the city has yet to decide whether young revelers will be allowed go door-to-door in search of candy on Halloween.

“No decision has been made on trick-or-treat,” Milford city manager Mark Whitfield said today. “We are awaiting guidance from the governor.”

Last month, Milford Community Parades Inc. decided the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 was too great to plan for an event in October.

“On Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2020, the Milford Parade Committee held a meeting and voted to cancel the 2020 Milford Community Parade,” Charles Gray, the committee’s chairperson, said in a letter to the city government sent later that week.

“Our decision was based upon the governor’s guidance issued to the public for large gatherings,” he said. “Our hope was we would be in Phase 3 in July, so we could successfully move forward.”

But in the email, Mr. Gray said, “Without a definitive outlook for future guidelines in October, we cannot expect our community to take a health risk, continue to have our partners in a ‘wait and see’ environment and ask civic groups, families and businesses to invest in floats and decorations/costumes without ample time to plan.”

Mr. Whitfield indicated that Milford would likely be taking a similarly cautious approach to Christmas festivities come December.

“All the Christmas celebrations are done by (Downtown Milford Inc.),” Mr. Whitfield said.

Traditionally, for the holiday season, Milford’s children have been able to visit Santa at the Santa House on Walnut Street, an ornate red and white building that serves as an ice cream shop in the summer.

“The Promotions Committee of DMI is currently working on a unique way to have Santa Claus in town and to carry out some of our traditions,” said DMI president Peggy Reilly. “DMI is following the advice of the city of Milford and will follow their rules until we receive the all-clear to go back to our events.”

Harrington’s holiday events up in the air
Daniel Tartt, Harrington’s city manager, said no final decisions have been made on what the town’s Halloween and Christmas events will look like or if they’ll even happen in the first place.

“All of our holiday events for the rest of the year are currently under question,” Mr. Tartt said today.

“We are currently discussing what we want to do for Halloween,” he said. “We are closely monitoring what other municipalities are doing and, more importantly, monitoring what the governor’s guidelines are.”

Mr. Tartt said Harrington’s options are to have trick-or-treating normally as they have in years past, to cancel the event altogether or to organize a modified event.

“A modified Halloween event might look at how to provide social distancing, only allowing certain locations instead of going house to house,” he said. “It’d be a controlled environment. It would be able to accommodate any restrictions that the governor ran.”

Mr. Tartt said a decision has not been reached about Harrington’s Christmas celebrations either.

“We normally have a Christmas tree-lighting ceremony, and we also have a Christmas parade,” he said.

Mr. Tartt said the town is treading lightly in its decision-making process.
“We don’t want to wait too late to make a decision, but we’re being very careful, watching what other municipalities are doing and also monitoring what the governor’s COVID restrictions are,” he said.

Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage
Reopening Delaware: Resources for Businesses
Delaware Phase 2 guidance

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