Hallmark Christmas activity scaled down amid Covid

Previous countdowns have attracted as many as 8,000 people
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By Elesha George

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Covid-19 won’t cancel the Christmas lighting tradition at Shouls Toys, Gifts & Housewares but it has certainly scaled down the fanfare that makes Christmas special for its shoppers and onlookers.

The Shoul family have begun to string up decorations at the store, however co-owner David Shoul told Observer that they will not be having the anticipated countdown to the lighting ceremony.

“We won’t be having a countdown, we won’t be having a show. We’ll just light up and hopefully that will take away a lot of the over-anxiety that there might be to attend,” he said.

He said while the family is disappointed that they won’t be able to keep the tradition for the first time in several years, they thought it was the right thing to do to prevent any further spread of coronavirus.

“It wouldn’t be right to have a countdown or even to announce the time we will light up, because we want to be very careful that we don’t create a situation where people are not social distancing. Over the excitement people get too close to each other,” he explained.

The good news is that the lighting will still take place, though subtly, and the store’s usual three-hour shopper discount period will be extended for several more hours.

He said, “We came to the decision that we would. In this depressed time where people are looking for something to make them a little bit happier, we decided it would be the worst possible thing not to do it.”

Shoul, who said the lighting show is a way to give back to customers, has decided to have an entire discount day to raise shoppers’ spirits.

“So we’re going to give a 10-hour period rather than a three-hour period,” he told Observer.

The store’s Christmas displays started in 1974 with the showing of Santa. In 1983, it grew to include a countdown that, up until 2019, attracted thousands of residents and tourists.

“It really didn’t reach its pinnacle attendance until the last five or 10 years and we really went extravagant with the displays,” Shoul recalled.

The lighting ceremony usually takes place on December 8, the night before VC Bird Day. The lights remain in place until January 6.

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