On October 30, Gossips was among the first to announce that, despite the pandemic, there would be a Winter Walk--a special COVID-19 edition, carefully planned to observe all the COVID-19 protocols and keep everyone safe. Warren Street would not be closed as it has been in the past. There would not be indoor events or spectacles that encouraged people to crowd together. Instead, on the first Saturday in December, there would be shop windows decorated for the holiday season, Sax O Claus strolling down the street, and an evening of festive social distancing which culminated, as always, with fireworks over Promenade Hill, which could be viewed from anywhere in the city and from miles around.
Yesterday, Matt Murell, chair of the Columbia County Board of Supervisors, issued a press release, which began with a quote from Jack Mabb, director of the Columbia County Department of Health.
“If I tell you I’m having a birthday party and I’m expecting 50 visitors, when in fact I’m expecting hundreds, does that make it okay? No,” said Columbia County Department of Health Director Jack Mabb on Wednesday in discussing Hudson’s Winter Walk plans for Saturday, December 5.
Under Governor Cuomo’s executive order, up to 50 persons may congregate under the current COVID-19 infectious rate in the Capital Region. The Hudson Opera House, the longtime promoter of Winter Walk, is advertising such events on December 5 as late night shopping, Sax O’Claus, Santa’s Village, and fireworks. Other events are scheduled through December 24.
“What is being outlined by the Opera House is essentially Winter Walk,” said Director Mabb, who noted he has attended many of them over the years. “This has an opportunity to be a significant COVID-19 spreader. Contact tracing would be impossible in this situation. I would really discourage this event from happening.”
Interestingly, Governor Andrew Cuomo yesterday identified "living room spread"—small gatherings in people's homes, not people wearing masks and social distancing outdoors on a mile-long street—as the number one cause of the current increase in COVID cases. Nevertheless, today Hudson Hall, the producer of the holiday event, announced there would be no fireworks on Saturday, December 5, but the rest of Winter Walk 2020: The Hudson Safe Edition would proceed as planned.
Hudson Hall, Mayor Kamal Johnson, and Columbia County Department of Health Jack Mabb today announced fireworks planned for Saturday, December 5, have been postponed until 2021. All other activities for Winter Walk: The Hudson Safe Edition to proceed as scheduled.
“Fireworks at Winter Walk have always been something that draws people to city streets. The combination of the shops and restaurants being open coupled with the fireworks made us concerned about the prospects of large gatherings of people and the possible spread of Covid-19 in our community,” said Director Mabb. “Our department has already seen a bump up in positives as a result of Thanksgiving."
“We respect the Department of Health’s recommendation, and we are happy to work with the City of Hudson to ensure the safety of our community,” said Tambra Dillon, Hudson Hall Executive Director. “Winter Walk has always been about supporting our community and celebrating the creativity of this region, and we encourage everyone to visit Hudson for the twenty days of decorated windows, holiday shopping, festive cheer and community celebration planned from December 5-24 for Winter Walk 2020: The Hudson Safe Edition.”
Hudson Hall has produced Winter Walk on the first Saturday in December since 1997. The event has since become a beloved start to the holiday shopping season in Hudson by highlighting its creative community. Instead of closing off Warren Street for a large celebration involving tens of thousands people on a single evening, Winter Walk 2020 begins on Saturday, December 5, and continues through the month of December. Many of the things everyone has come to expect from Winter Walk—holiday lights, lavishly decorated shop windows, Santa’s Village in the Seventh Street Park, holiday shopping in unique local shops, and the presence of Santa himself—are a part of Winter Walk 2020, reimagined for the pandemic. For more information about Winter Walk 2020: The Hudson Safe Edition or to make a free reservation to visit Santa, head to hudsonhall.org.