Charlestown, Indiana Christmas decor

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Communities in southern Indiana are finding creative ways to change up typical holiday plans this year because of safety concerns with the pandemic. 

Charlestown is known for its annual light-up ceremony downtown. Mayor Treva Hodges said the lights will still go up this year, but there won't be an event to commemorate the occasion. She's hoping families will come enjoy the lights with their households but is discouraging large groups from gathering. Plans are being made to get the light-up ceremony to go virtual. 

"We thought we were doing a good job. We were planning everything with COVID in mind. Then COVID threw us a curveball and said well, even your planning wasn't good enough," Hodges said. "It's been a hard year for everyone, and we want them to spend that time together. But we want them to do that smartly and safely."

The community had also planned on a holiday market this year, but now, that in-person event has been canceled. Train rides and carriage rides are also on pause until the county gets back into the yellow zone on the state coronavirus map

Nearby, Jeffersonville leaders are making plans for Christmas. Like in Charlestown, this year's light-up event will be virtual. Mayor Mike Moore said more information will be coming out soon about how to stream the light-up, which will take place Nov. 28. 

"We want to still enjoy the spirit of Christmas and invite families to celebrate in their own way, but this year's a little different," Moore said. 

Santa will still be coming to Jeffersonville this year, but kids won't be sitting on his lap. In order to make sure social distancing is in place, Santa will stay in his sleigh at Chapel Lake Park on Saturday, Dec. 19, from 6-8 p.m., and families will be able to drive through the park to see him. 

"The kids can roll down the windows and say 'hey' to Santa," Moore said. 

Moore said Jeffersonville is also doing a recipe exchange and a house tour. He said people can decorate the outside of their homes and submit pictures to the city by Dec. 7. Then, on Dec. 11, the city will put out a map of the decorated homes so people can "tour" from their cars and drive around Jeffersonville looking at all the lights. 

"I know this is a crazy time right now, and we've all got to take precautions," Moore said. "Let's remember what Christmas is about." 

In Madison, Indiana, the decision to call off the Christmas parade was tough, but Mayor Bob Courtney said the city still has big plans this holiday season. 

"The city of Madison is going to be more beautiful than ever this Christmas season," he said. 

Community Relations Director Hannah Fagen said wreaths will go up as soon as this Friday, and lights will be set up the day after Thanksgiving. Like other towns, there will not be a group gathering this year to have a lighting ceremony.

"The city has invested in wreaths for all lamp posts along Main Street and wreath skylines that go across the road. We are going to have over 50,000 lights at the Broadway Fountain," she said. "We're not taking away, in my opinion, any of the celebration of the holiday season. In fact, we're adding to it."

Madison is also having a home decorating competition. Community members are encouraged to decorate their homes for the holidays and submit their pictures. Three winners will be chosen and given $200 in Chamber Cash to be spent at local businesses. 

For information on that contest, click here

Santa will be in Madison this year and will be able to visit kids with social distancing measures in place. He will also have a mailbox outside City Hall and will read letters sent to him on Facebook for a virtual Santa experience.

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