By Scott Carlson
Well, Santa Claus won’t be coming to town.
At least not on Saturday, Dec. 5 when Kris Kringle had been scheduled to appear from 4 to 5 p.m. at Milton Square in St. Anthony Park’s downtown shopping district.
This year, a raging resurgence of COVID-19 infections cases in Minnesota and Gov. Tim Walz’s four-week shutdown order on many larger-scale activities has put the kibosh on Santa’s visit to Milton Square.
It’s the most symbolic and sad sign that things are drastically different this holiday season as people across the nation, including those in and near St. Anthony Park, confront the need to counter the coronavirus pandemic. Gov. Walz’s closure order on—among other things—restaurants, health clubs and gyms took effect on Nov. 21 and is scheduled to end on Dec. 18.
“There is a ton of stuff that would normally go on (for the holiday season) and none of that is happening this year,” said Heather O’Malley, owner of Milton Square and the proprietor of one of its shops, Thistle. Other activities that have been scrubbed include private dinner parties at Nico’s Taco Bar, book signings at Winding Trail Books and a spaghetti dinner with Santa sponsored by the St. Paul Parks and Recreation Center.
At the Bugle’s deadline, O’Malley planned to start her holiday market in a few days and see how things played out with COVID-19. O’Malley could not be reached for further comment after Walz’s order.
“It’s not great for small retailers,” she noted, prior to the Walz’s limited closure order. “It’s very, very difficult.”
Yet, despite the challenging environment, local retailers and community organizations are endeavoring to do their best to carry on some activities in hopes of bringing people holiday cheer, O’Malley said, “We are trying really hard to get people to come out. Everyone is trying to come up with festive promotions to get people to come out.”
Here’s a list of some promotions and activities scheduled in December, as the Bugle went to press:
10 a.m.-12 p.m.—Children’s gift bag drive-thru at Tim & Tom’s Speedy Market, 2310 Como Ave.
10 a.m.-4 p.m.—Free scarf with every purchase over $75 at Scarborough Fair, 2238 Carter Ave. No appointment necessary that day.
11 a.m.-4 p.m.—Shop handmade beeswax candles and meet the maker of Slow Burn Candles in-studio at Healing Elements, 2290 Como Ave. Enjoy 20 percent off site-wide at www.healingelementswellness.com and in-store all day Dec. 5.
Month of December
boréal, 2276 Como Ave., plans to showcase several artists from previous shows in its Art Loft during December. The apparel and variety gift shop will continue to offer curbside pickup and free neighborhood delivery, personalized shopping by phone/FaceTime or email and before or after private shopping events for up to five people by appointment.
Meanwhile, some reoccurring holiday events are taking a new form. For example, the annual Blue House Boutique at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, 2136 Carter Ave., has been canceled because organizers say “it would be way too crowded for you to shop safely.”
Instead, they are planning to hold online “An Un-Boutique,” whose proceeds will go to support Blue House Uganda, which serves Ugandan orphans and vulnerable girls by providing them a safe family-like home with nutritious food, clothing, health care, mentoring and support for education. The Blue House also supports boys and girls living with relatives in Uganda who can’t afford to send them to school.
All income from the Un-Boutique will go toward these two programs and extra pandemic-year expenses. To learn more, go to www.Blue-House.org/2020-Un-Boutique.
Other seasonal activities include:
• The Falcon Heights-Lauderdale Lions Club is holding its annual Christmas tree sale from now through Dec. 14. Hours are 5 to 8 p.m. weekdays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and noon to 6 p.m. Sundays at Falcon Heights Community Park, at the corner of Roselawn and Cleveland avenues. Proceeds go to support, among other things, the Suburban Ramsey Emergency Coalition.
• The annual Holiday Flower Show at Como Regional Park’s Marjorie McNeely Conservatory is scheduled to run from Saturday, Dec. 5, through Jan. 3. This year’s show will feature Golden Glo and Cortez Burgundy poinsettias along with wintergreen, geranium, rosemary and more. For information on times and days, call the Conservatory at 651-487-8201.