Should Hedon’s traditional Christmas Lights ‘switch on’ event go ahead? This was the question posed starkly at last night’s Hedon Town Council meeting. The final decision will be made next Thursday at a series of special meetings designed to discuss options in more detail. One thing we do know is that some form of Christmas Lights event will go ahead following a motion to cancel the switch on being defeated last night.
The Hedon Christmas Lights Switch On event (Friday 26 November 2021) would traditionally be the town’s busiest night of the year with an estimated 4,000 people taking part over approximately 4 hours. However, with the prevailing threat of COVID-19, then the opportunity for the night to become a ‘super spreader’ event for the virus is seen as very real. The pending decision is set against the background of the recent move by Hull City Council to allow Hull Fair to take place. Hull Fair will take place but visitors are being warned to take necessary precautions and think about those who are more vulnerable to the virus; i.e. use hand sanitiser stations, wear face coverings and avoid the traditionally busy periods. But is this approach possible for Hedon’s switch-on event?
Different Hedon Town Councillors expressed a whole range of opinions on the matter. There are those who say that when the rest of the country is cracking on and the population is double-jabbed protected, then is it right to diminish the Christmas celebrations once again? An alternative view is that a Christmas Lights event could lead to a rise in local Coronavirus cases – and what a terrible responsibility to know that you have contributed to a local spike in infection rates. In any event, those confident in coping with the virus and taking precautions are likely to attend, whilst those not confident will stay away which, it is argued, will naturally reduce the size of any event.
The most favourable scenario is a smaller event: One that encourages celebration but also reduces crowds and threats of infection. An event without the bustling market and charity stalls is an option. Doing more to seasonally light up the town is another so that a visit to the town becomes the Christmas thing to do, rather than a single event.
Another issue that challenges Hedon Town Council organisers for any single Christmas event, is the lack of volunteers. The council’s existing volunteers tend to be in the older age bracket and therefore statistically more vulnerable to the virus. To manage the event might mean employing outside contractors to do so, which could seriously add to the costs of staging any single event.
There are likely to be strong opinions on whether to go ahead with a lights event or not. But the decision on the scale, size and type of event will be determined next week (30 September). Ultimately, the decision to attend – or not – will be made by residents and visitors, individuals and families when they see what is on offer.
See: Hedon Christmas Lights.