Thursday, December 3, 2020

Winter Walk 2020: Reimagined, Now Revised

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 streetas 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


  1. It is completely irresponsible to hold Winter Walk this year. Hospitals are running out of ICU beds, and doctors and nurses overwhelmed. Winter Walk is not worth the risk. If the event isn't cancelled, I plan to boycott Hudson Hall, and I urge others to join me.

  2. This is why Winter Walk will be a super-spreader event if it is held in any form:
    It is inevitable that some of the people who attend Winter Walk will be infected with COVID, but they will be asymptomatic. These asymptomatic people will lower their masks in stores, bars and restaurants to sip beverages and eat. When the mask is off, the virus will spread. This virus is extremely contagious. The risk is unjustifiable.

  3. We can support our local businesses without hosting a super spreader event. This is such a bad idea on all levels.

  4. Oh, dear. Winter Walk this year is simply a promotional effort to help local businesses. There is no street closure or mass gathering, and we are not placing artists in the shops or the street. We are encouraging the shops to decorate their windows and promoting 20 days of ‘festive cheer’ to encourage a Winter’s Walk down Warren Street, shop local be it online or in person, dine local, order curb-side pick-up or delivery to support Hudson businesses. Santa will Zoom in from the North Pole to meet with children virtually, the City will light the tree, the Rabbi the Menorah, and Kwanzaa will be an all-virtual event. We’re trying to help, please don’t boycott Hudson Hall or our local businesses.

  5. Because it is a "promotional effort," Winter Walk will encourage many people who don't live in Hudson to come to Hudson. Given the gravity of the situation, that is a bad thing. People should stay home to stop the spread. If Tambra Dillon and the leaders of Hudson Hall truly care about the citizens of Hudson and the doctors and nurses risking their lives to save us, Hudson Hall will issue a press release that states quite simply, "Winter Walk is cancelled this year." Period.

  6. As a small business owner, and a advocate for the importance of small and micro businesses in communities, I’m very engaged with the challenges, and understand that our businesses need support to hold on, however, this year, we need to do everything differently, and holding any events to drive physical in person business are a mistake. Holding winter walk this year is a mistake. The truth is that we have largely escaped the huge devastation of Covid in the county, because we have been fortunate. As it gets colder, and cases climb everywhere, it’s time for us to bring forth a renewed rigor to safety measures. Public health safety has to come first.

  7. Currently there is 1 person in the Columbia County ICU. This is far from resources being “overwhelmed” in the region. Even in NYC the ICU’s have very few COVID-19. Exaggeration, hyperbole, and distortion from non-experts is not helpful nor constructive.

    If people are afraid to go outside, then you should stay at home (eg people who are high risk). Others can safely go outside and support local businesses.

  8. Is it true that Warren Street will not be closed to vehicular traffic this year? That means people will be crowded onto the sidewalk. It will be impossible for people to maintain social distancing.

  9. If I'm not mistaken, entry to Hudson Hall exhibits is by appointment. And, of course, masks are a must. Neither requirement is necessary to wander the streets of Hudson.

    Merely the name "Winter Walk" will bring more people to town. And, the fact that this has been deemed 'opening weekend' creates buzz.And, why aren't these retailers shutting down anyway? Aren't they concerned about the spread?

    I have to say, it seems irresponsible.

  10. When they changed their name from Hudson Opera House to Hudson Hall, I thought nothing could be more oblivious. Until now.