Noel sign

For the past score and seven years, Onida merchants and community service organizations have pulled out all the stops to kick off the holiday season with the annual ’Twas the Night Before Christmas. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the celebration intended to promote hometown shopping and provide a family outing for everyone will continue with several social distancing related changes.

Everyone is encouraged to wear masks in order to protect each other from spreading the highly contagious coronavirus.

Out of an abundance of caution, the hayride, St. Pius X church bazaar, Wheat Land Lions popcorn giveaway and open houses at many of the businesses have been canceled for this year.

Vendor booths in the Phoenix Center will be spread out to give shoppers ample room to maintain six feet of social distance. Shoppers should plan to check out the special sales in the local businesses as well. The vendor fair will run from 3:00 -8:00 p.m.

New this year will be the spruce pot planter holiday decorating classes by East Pierre Garden Center. Anyone wishing to join the classes, which will be held at 2:00 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. in the Phoenix Center, should contact Mary at 224-8832 to sign up; enrollment is limited. The $30 enrollment fee includes the cost of the class and the pot base; participants are required to wear a mask and can expect to pay another $30-$50 for greens and embellishments.

Members of the Sully Buttes National Honor Society will operate the kiddie train from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. The depot has relocated to in front of the Watchman, so passengers should line up to board the train there.

Instead of arriving on the fire truck, Santa will ride through the parade of lights with Mrs. Claus at his side. Santa’s helpers will walk alongside his sleigh distributing the Santa Sacks to the community’s good boys and girls along the parade route. Unfortunately, there will be no opportunities for pictures with Santa or Mrs. Claus at this year’s ’Twas.

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas will culminate at 7:00 p.m. with the fireworks show at the top of Main Street followed by the parade of lights down the two block business district. Individuals, businesses and organizations are especially encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity to celebrate while remaining socially distanced by entering a float in the parade of lights; lineup for the parade of lights at the Onida United Methodist Church starting at 7:00 p.m.