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Should Colorado's public holiday events be allowed amid pandemic?

Many outdoor and indoor events continuing
Posted at 6:59 AM, Nov 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-30 15:17:06-05

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While health officials and state leaders are urging Coloradans to cancel Thanksgiving dinner with extended family and stay home as much as possible, the state is still allowing several holiday events to proceed.

Denver7 is going 360, asking if it’s safe or responsible to encourage these community events during a pandemic.

William Reed, executive director of the German American Chamber of Commerce and organizer of Denver’s annual Christkindl Market, said people need the Christmas spirit now more than ever.

“We're hoping we can bring what we're calling a sparkle of joy to Coloradans and Denverites,” Reed said.

This year, the popular German Christmas market moved from Skyline park to the much larger Civic Center park. Even with more space, attendance will be capped at 75 people per zone. There will be no heated tent this year, but people will still be able to buy food and beverages and sit at outdoor tables.

Denver Zoo Lights has also made changes to keep guests safe. The popular display will welcome about a quarter of the typical number of guests for its 30th anniversary. Masks will be required and social distancing will be enforced. Patrick Phelan, senior director of guest experiences, said canceling zoo lights would have been financially devastating for the Denver Zoo.

“Going into the new year, if we don’t have zoo lights, we don’t have money in the bank to operate this institution with our thousands of animals and hundreds of employees,” Phelan said.

While there are obvious economic reasons for preserving these holiday events, Denver psychotherapist Annette Nunez points out holidays also have an impact on mental health.

“People will go through a mini seasonal depression in October and November, but as soon as December hits, it is joyous and it is fun and people do get excited,” Nunez said.

Tiffany Owen, general manager at Denver Union Station, said the city can encourage people to come downtown for the holidays in a responsible way.

“Obviously our No. 1 priority is to keep all of our guests and travelers safe,” Owen said.

She encouraged people to support businesses while staying outside. Union Station has expanded patio seating and added heaters so people can comfortably celebrate the season downtown.

While being outside is considered safer than inside, the Gaylord Rockies Resort received a variance from the state to host its indoor “I love Christmas Movies” display.

The event features scenes from five popular Christmas movies. Marketing Director Deanne French said they require masks and will limit occupancy. Guests can also walk through the resort’s outdoor holiday light display for free.