BERLIN – Holiday season is in full swing in downtown Berlin.
While the pandemic has prompted changes, the town is doing its best to remain festive this December. A successful Ice Ice Berlin last Friday is being followed up with the town’s new Light up Berlin home decorating contest.
“The response has been overwhelming,” said Ivy Wells, the town’s economic and community development director. “With many events being canceled, we thought this would be a fun way for everyone to enjoy the lights and decorations; the Berlin community really knows how to decorate.”
Though the pandemic forced the cancellation of the parade and the town’s annual tree lighting ceremony, merchants joined together to sponsor the installation of ice sculptures on Black Friday to kick off the holiday shopping season. Wells said the evening, christened Ice Ice Berlin, went well and will likely be held again in 2021. Main Street was closed, and visitors were able to walk through town, admiring ice sculptures and perusing downtown shops.
“It went extremely well,” she said. “Everyone that I saw was compliant with the mask mandate. I could see people smiling behind their masks.”
While there was a crowd in town for the event, Wells said people were spread out since there were more than 20 ice sculptures. Merchants too were mindful of social distancing and placed some of their wares on racks on the sidewalk.
“They were definitely busy but they were mindful of how many people were in the shops,” Wells said.
To keep the festivities going, the town launched its Light up Berlin contest this week. More than 30 homes have signed up to participate. Judging will take place on Dec. 11 and 12. The George Bailey Award will go to the most classic and traditional display while the Kevin McAllister Award will go to the most creative and original display. The Clark Griswold Award will go to the brightest house while The Charles Dickens Award will go to the most spirited home.
Wells said the town was pleased with the participation, particularly since the contest was new.
“The holiday season is all about the kids,” she said. “We wanted to give the kids something to look forward to, to enjoy the beauty of the season.”
She added that the town recognized all holidays, regardless of race or religion, and encouraged everyone to celebrate in their own personal way.
“Whether it’s Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or Diwali, please show your spirit this holiday season,” she said.
Throughout the rest of the month, the town will offer free carriage rides on weekends from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Masks are required and only one group is permitted to ride at a time.
The town is also still forwarding letters to the North Pole via the “Letters for Santa” mailbox at the welcome center. Those who write prior to Dec. 14 will receive a coupon for a free treat from one of the town’s eateries.