Locals prepare for safe holiday celebrations


Photo courtesy of Getty Images. Kids across the valley look for healthy ways to celebrate the holidays during COVID-19.

As the Coachella Valley prepares for upcoming holiday celebrations, many businesses and residents have been forced to take creative measures to maintain annual festivities and follow the Center for Disease Control  and Prevention guidelines.

As the holidays near, the CDC has continued to stress the importance of following safety guidelines for the upcoming holiday celebrations as they report COVID-19 numbers have now reached over 47,000 in new cases in the United States and over 800,000 in total cases within California.

Barbara Perry is a resident of the Coachella Valley. She said, “Since moving from Canada 10 years ago, I don’t usually get to see my family on the holidays, but because of COVID, I’m now not able to see them or friends that typically come over around this time for Thanksgiving and Christmas.”

Like millions of Americans, Perry is one of many who expresses her disappointment over not interacting with friends and family due to implemented health and safety guidelines limiting the daily interactions between friends and families.

Residents aren’t the only ones faced with making changes to traditions for the upcoming holidays. Traditional celebrations such as trick-or-treating for Halloween, Dia de Los Muertos celebrations, large Thanksgiving parades, and crowded Black Friday shopping centers are all traditional celebrations that could help spread the virus.

Businesses have had to become creative in a way that ensures the community’s safety but gets residents involved. The Family YMCA of the Desert is doing something different this year. Shelby Goodman, the development coordinator, said,  “This year’s Halloween drive-through is a definite change, but we know that the kids and families will enjoy it.” The drive-through event will take place on El Paseo, Oct. 29 and 30. They promise a family-friendly experience where people can still celebrate Halloween from the comfort and safety of their cars.

Other local establishments who have depended on a tradition to draw residents in, such as the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens and the La Quinta Resort and Club, have all offered safe and fun experiences for their guests and visitors that maintain the tradition.

The Living Desert hosts an annual Howl-O-Ween event where visitors of all ages are encouraged to dress up in costumes and trick-or-treat at select stations located around the zoo. Visitors can enjoy a socially distanced, family-friendly adventure along with the daily wonders that The Living Desert has to offer.

“There will be people who choose not to participate, and we understand that. Those who do want to come and participate in all of our events this holiday season should know that they have all been adapted with health and safety guidelines while still offering a fun and exciting experience,” said Erin Scott, Living Desert’s senior marketing and public relations manager.

While many residents and businesses are doing as much as they can to keep the community involved during the holidays, the CDC website has recommended small dinner settings, preferably indoors with only family members who live in the same household for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Chris George, marketing and communications director for the La Quinta Resort and Club, said they plan on maintaining Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations such as their annual Thanksgiving Day Buffet, Tree Lighting Ceremony and Breakfast with Santa.

“It’s not only the residents and guests that appreciate these celebrations. People from all around the country come especially for events such as the tree lighting ceremony,” George said. “Due to COVID cutting off the interactions between many people, we hope the safety precautions we have enforced don’t take away from how special this year’s holidays will be.

Restaurant establishments such as Lulu California Bistro in Palm Springs now have to think of ways to attract guests as the holidays get closer.

“We have reserved Christmas specials every year, where guests are served a 4-course meal that they can choose from, and it’s really popular,” said Gabe Terrado, the general manager at Lulu’s. “Depending on where we are with COVID numbers in December, and with limited seating, we hope to continue with Christmas specials.”

Though this year’s holiday festivities will be different than what many are used to, Coachella Valley residents and visitors can expect celebrations to be just as wonderful as they were last year.