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Santa still coming to town
COVID not dimming Christmas lights
Christmas Lights put up
A Great Bend city employee installs a Christmas decoration along Main Street Thursday afternoon. City crews are busy putting up the glowing displays in preparation for the Trail of Lights. - photo by BY DALE HOGG Great Bend Tribune

With Great Bend’s Trail of Lights and the Home for the Holidays Parade less than a month away, the city’s Public Lands Department has been busy putting up the myriad displays that make up the glowing Christmas tradition.

“We want to get these up while the weather is nice,” said Public Lands Director Scott Keeler. Over the past week, his crews have been moving from park to park installing the decorations.

This follows other preparations for the Home for the Holidays celebration and trail kickoff set for Saturday, Nov. 28, which are being made amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The virus had cast the holiday events in doubt, but the City Council in October voted overwhelmingly to proceed, with various precautions in place.

With the theme “Sweets and Treats” and Cheryl Cheely serving as grand marshal, the parade itself wasn’t the issue, as much as the food vendors and activities that draw throngs to the Courthouse Square after it is over.

“It is Great Bend’s way of inviting Santa to town and kicking off our Christmas season,” said Community Coordinator Christina Hayes. But, “there have been concerns regarding the long lines and gathering of people for the parade, and the festival afterwards.”  

So, there will be efforts to help with the flow of people in the square. Social distancing and face coverings will be encouraged.

“I think people  just really want to have a good time,” Hayes said. And, “the partners in making the festival happen have stated they are willing to serve the free items again this year.”

It has been discussed to possibly spread the booths out some. But, the availability of electrical outlets limits what can be done.

“I think if we can tell people to social distance and wear masks, we’ll be OK,” Hayes said, noting folks know how to practice common sense. At least this is an outdoor event, and that should help.

As for Santa Claus, Hayes said he plans to arrive in the parade as normal. Afterwards, he will take up residence in the Santas Around the World location at 1223 Main to greet the little ones.

“We just ask that if you are sick, not to come,” she said. “We have to keep Santa safe, too.”

Contact Hayes at the city office, 620-793-4111, for more information.

Trail of Lights volunteers needed

Great Bend’s Trail of Lights opens Saturday, Nov. 28, and Community Coordinator Christina Hayes said she needs volunteers to greet visitors to the lighted display. They have several openings between Dec. 1-22.

The greeters are asked to work two-hour shifts (6-8 p.m.), manning the booth at the trail entrance on the south side of Brit Spaugh Park. They track the number of car occupants and car tag county info to see where visitors are coming from, and take donations that help maintain the light displays.

Shifts are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Those wanting more information can email Hayes at or message her on Facebook at ExploreGreatBend.