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California's holiday traditions in jeopardy or making major modifications

California's holiday traditions in jeopardy or making major modifications
Posted at 11:29 AM, Dec 03, 2020

(NOTE: SOME EVENTS MAY BE CLOSED FOR A PORTION OF DECEMBER DUE TO CALIFORNIA'S NEW REGIONAL STAY-AT-HOME ORDER.)

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- Stay at home orders, mask mandates, social distancing — California's coronavirus regulations make it challenging to continue traditional holiday festivities.

In October, San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl officials said that its 43rd annual football game would not be played this year.

Due to the pandemic, the bowl's Board of Directors voted unanimously to cancel the December game, which has been played since 1978. The traditional Bowl Week events had already been canceled for this year, including the Holiday Bowl Parade.

"Making this decision was agonizing, but when we take a step back and look at it, it was absolutely the right decision," said Holiday Bowl CEO Mark Neville.

Before you say it's just a football game, you need to follow the money.

According to organizers, over the last decade the effort has averaged $31 million in economic benefit and more than 28,000 hotel room nights annually for the San Diego region.

"It takes place during the slowest period of the year, the Christmas to New Year's period," Neville said. "Were it not for the Holiday Bowl, there'd be very few people in town, very few out-of-towners here enjoying our city."

This year holiday events across the state are being impacted.

"We're seeing probably 10 percent of our normal attendance," said Mike Arnold, public event manager for the Lights at Cambria Pines.

Arnold said the annual Cambria Christmas Market has been postponed until 2021 due to COVID-19 concerns. Instead of the normal market lights, a new light display called the Lights at Cambria Pines will be offered.

Although the display will be a smaller footprint than normal, guests will still be able to celebrate the magic of the holidays in a more intimate setting, enjoying more than two million lights while social distancing, Arnold explained.

"The Christmas Market on a normal year really brings a lot of tourism to Cambria, so it's great for all the local shops and other hotels as well," he said. "So in that aspect, we're certainly feeling it in the town of Cambria."

About 2.5 hours east, in Bakersfield, there are similar situations.

"We don't have the ice-skating rink or the bounce houses or the laser tag or the snow hill or shooting the abominable snowman that was always what the dads liked to do," said Mike Ross, president of Christmas Town.

Ross said the show at Christmas Town in Bakersfield will go on, but with some major modifications.

This year they've created a drive-thru experience and doubled the size of the light show.

"With this kind of year, I think a lot of people were just glad we were able to get open," Ross said. "They loved the new addition to the lights."

This year the traditions you've known from the past might look a little different.

Instead of being canceled, many annual events decided to press on in a modified way to ensure communities have something to look forward to and celebrate the season. But the economic impact on their communities has yet to be seen.