Being “home for the holidays” is taking on a whole new meaning in 2020 and the Belgrade Community Coalition, along with numerous volunteers, have been making plans to help put some sparkle in your December.
Way back in the spring as we started thinking about the Festival of Lights, we had high hopes that our world would be “back to normal” by December. Unfortunately, that of course, isn’t the case. What is the case though is an even deeper need to do something magical for our community this holiday season while many of us are struggling to not only take care of ourselves physically but also mentally. We understand there is a need to do something that would lift all our spirits, make us smile, and maybe even get us outside for a stroll in some fresh air… all of course, while being responsible and respectful of each other’s health and wellbeing.
As the BCC board and Festival of Lights Committee met via Zoom over the past six months, we spent countless hours brainstorming and adjusted our play book in order to come up with ideas that would allow us to keep the Festival of Lights alive in 2020. We quickly, and obviously, realized that because our number one priority and concern is to keep our community safe and healthy, the event would not go on “as usual”. We could not safely gather downtown nor at the Belgrade High Special Events Center for our one special day in December. However, as we ran through our ideas and started thinking outside the box, our one special day turned into a whole month of new and exciting activities for you, Belgrade.
Somethings will continue virtually like the Gingerbread House contest, 5K Jingle Jog, and One Stop Shop but other things will get to be experienced live like the much-anticipated Christmas Convoy. Think dump trucks, tractors, tow trucks, pickups and more COVERED in holiday lights driving past your house on the evening of December 12. All you’ll need to do is look out your window or step out onto your front porch to experience these festivities. If the convoy doesn’t happen to be going by your home, never fear because the route is 7 MILES LONG! so you’ll be sure to find a place to park and watch the convoy safely social distance style from your vehicle.
Another new addition to the Festival of Lights is the Holiday Light Park at the Senior Center walking path. If you remember our Memorial Lights Tunnel from last year, it’s new home will be at this Light Park along with an 18’ tall Frosty the Snowman inflatable, and a not much shorter Rudolf and Clarice, as well as some of their other inflatable friends. The best part is that unlike last year when the light tunnel had to be put away after just one night, it will get to stay up all December long for our community members to enjoy as they take an evening stroll through the twinkling light of our outdoor winter wonderland.
December in Belgrade would not be complete without our signature sphere lights at the Chamber of Commerce and the Memorial Light trees lining Main Street. I have heard from many people over the years that the holidays are their favorite time to walk or drive downtown. They enjoy all the lights and the warm and fuzzy feelings they get as they take in not only our seasonal decorations, but also our outstanding Main Street businesses.
Speaking of Memorial Lights, we are now in our fourth year of this wonderful program created to help honor the memory of loved ones who are no longer with us. The BCC has been blessed to help honor so many special people and in turn, our community has been able to see the Festival of Light’s light display grow each year. If you would like to participate in the Memorial Light’s program, please visit our website, by December 18, at belgreatmt.org for more information.
2020 will definitely be a year we will never forget and this pandemic, for one, forced us to break away from the “Festival of Lights as usual” and allowed us to think outside the box and adopt some pretty amazing additions that we may have never thought to try. We all know things can change quickly during this pandemic and as we continue planning, we will also continue to watch the restrictions put forth by the Governor as well as the recommendations by the Gallatin County Health Department with an understanding that there is still a possibility of cancellation. But for now, we invite you to join us in one or more of the socially distant activities we have created to prove that our BelGreat! community can still come together strong, while being apart.
For more details and a schedule of all the Belgrade Festival of Lights activities or to donate to the BCC, please visit belgreatmt.org.
(Article written for the Belgrade News)