This is the time of the year where planning would be in full force for the 15th annual Christmas in the Village (CIV) event on Saturday, December 5. However, due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the Jefferson Arts Committee (JAC) and its partner organizations have decided to cancel the event this year based on current guidelines for social distancing, maximum allowable indoor capacity at a venue, restrictions on serving food, and the fact that there is no entertainment to site at any venue. Milton United Methodist Church, St. Gabriel’s Episcopal Church, and Jefferson Township Fire Company No. 1 have jointly made this decision. Cancelation is a disappointment, but it is made for the health and safety of the people involved in staging a large event and the public. While the State and the CDC might make additional changes to current restrictions – positive or negative – it takes a few months to plan CIV, so the decision to cancel needed to be made now.
There is no entertainment from the district schools to site at any of the participating indoor venues as in the past. It truly was the exceptional student bands and choruses and the dedication of the district’s music teachers that attracted members of the public to come into the Village to experience their free live performances, then shop the indoor vendors, and enjoy refreshments. Since schools have been closed since mid-March and when they open even on a limited basis, school band and chorus in person group rehearsals will probably be the among the last activities to be reactivated at any given time.
Likewise, the Jefferson Township Community Chorus and Community Band have been unable to practice in the high school music rooms since mid-March when the schools closed. Even if and when schools re-open on a limited or full-time basis, outside organizations presumably will not be permitted at this time to use school buildings for any events including musical rehearsals as they have in the past. Neither group has another indoor place to rehearse even it was safe to gather all the members to do so. Likewise, the Jefferson Community Players have temporarily lost their rehearsal and performance space in the Jefferson Township Senior Center as it remains closed.
Indoor dining is currently allowed at 25 percent capacity with many restrictions, including six-foot social distancing guidelines inside and outside. According to available information, at this time, any buildings in the township would have to meet the state’s restaurant guidelines to serve food and refreshments from either their church hall or the fire company’s kitchens.
However, the Jefferson Township Historical Society will hold its annual Museum Christmas on Saturday, December 5 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Sunday, December 6 from 1 to 4 p.m. at 315 Dover-Milton Road, Oak Ridge. As a museum, they can open under the State guidelines with entry to be controlled by Museum guides enforcing social distancing. Face masks must be worn at all times, and children must be accompanied by an adult. Tour the holiday decorated Museum & make a purchase at Miss Elizabeth’s Shoppe and enjoy some hot mulled cider and roasted chestnuts outside by the pot belly stove.
In an effort to involve the JAC, who has coordinated the CIV event for the past 14 years, the Historical Society has offered them an area outside on the museum grounds on Saturday, December 5. Tentative plans include a performance by several members of the Jefferson Township Community Band of holiday music, and members of the JAC are considering hosting a raffle or sale. JAC is also working on creating a virtual Gingerbread House Contest to continue that tradition.
The Jefferson Township Community Chorus hopes to record a virtual holiday concert while the Jefferson Community Players hope to also record a virtual holiday theatrical performance, both of which would be posted to social media for the public’s enjoyment. Details will be released when plans are finalized.
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