Safety first for Saturday’s Optimist Christmas Display

Olaf, a character from the movie Frozen, will have a display at the Tillsonburg and Area Optimist Club Christmas Display on Saturday, 1-4 p.m., in the parking lot next to Avondale United Church. (Chris Abbott/Norfolk and Tillsonburg News/File photo)

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The Tillsonburg and Area Optimist Club is ready to holds its first Optimist Christmas Display Saturday 1-4 p.m. in the parking lot behind Avondale United Church, Harvey Street, Tillsonburg.

Club members are promising to deliver a very merry afternoon, with Santa and Mrs. Claus, Olaf, and various super heroes set up on static display floats.

“It’s not confirmed, but we’re working to get some Paw Patrols there, too,” said Optimist member Mandi Byrnes. “And it’s not 100 per cent confirmed but hopefully Canada Post will be there with us, too, to collect Santa letters. If not, we will still be able to collect letters to Santa and we will hand them over.”

And, of course, the local firefighters will be there, accepting grocery gift cards as donations in lieu of the non-perishable food items they would normally collect during Santa Claus parades.

A map of how the parking lot area will be sectioned was recently released on social media showing about 150 feet has been reserved for the Christmas displays, and ‘a lot more’ room in the parking area along Lisgar Avenue for cars to wind their way through to the displays – and a separate area for walkers – co=ordinated by the Town of Tillsonburg which estimated about 200 cars could fit in the lot.

The entire parking lot area will be clearly marked on Saturday, Nov. 21 – look for the vehicle entrance on Lisgar Avenue.

“There’s so much room,” said Byrnes, “because we don’t know what to expect. We’re preparing for a large amount of vehicles, and if we don’t get them, that’s fine. But we want to be ready, just in case.

“We’re keeping it very minimal because, again, we don’t know what to expect. So we didn’t want to go all out – and also we’re very limited to the space. We would have loved to have more. It’s the unknown, it makes everything a bit more difficult for planning.”

Their success on Saturday, said Byrnes, could depend on how excited people are to get out of their homes and do something Christmas-related – and to see Santa and Mrs. Claus.

“There is definitely interest,” said Byrnes.

Moving into the Yellow zone for COVID safety precautions will not affect vehicular traffic, said Byrnes.

“People walking outside, it’s just like any other line-up, we’re going to maintain a minimum of six feet and we’re going to ask people to wear a mask. They are not mandatory outside, but you will see all of us volunteers wearing them to help show that we are doing our part.”

If it does get really busy Saturday, the Optimists are asking people to remember ‘there are others that would like a chance to see Santa as well.’

“So please take the time that you need, but keep moving so that others can see him too,” said Byrnes, noting that there will be a ‘thru lane’ near the displays to help ease congestion.

And people can always go back to the entrance and drive through again – it’s free.

“Because of where the vehicles will be driving, no one will be able to walk through the parking lot – they will have to walk around to get to the ‘walkers’ section. So around by the post office, or around the main parking lot by the mall. Just for safety.”

cabbott@postmedia.com

The Tillsonburg and Area Optimist Club has mapped the area for Saturday’s 1-4 p.m. Christmas Display. The entrance for vehicles is on Lisgar Avenue. (Submitted)

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