There’s an old holiday story about the doubtful little girl who writes to the newspaper to ask if Santa Claus is real.
To which the editor replied, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.”
Well, he was right. It’s just that this year Santa will not be appearing at the Stage Stop on Town Square, as he has every year since Donner and Blitzen were elf size.
But the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce is trying in spite of COVID-19 restrictions to provide a bit of holiday cheer and to urge holiday shoppers to remember Jackson businesses this December.
Supporting local businesses is a big deal, even if the usual holiday coupon promotions aren’t being run, said chamber Vice President Rick Howe. The annual Small Business Saturday, a nationwide promotion, is the Saturday that’s coming up, and local business people could use some love, he said.
“We think it’s important that people take a look at their shopping list and say, ‘What can I get locally?’ because it’s about people surviving,” Howe said. “These are businesses that support this community all year long. ... These are businesses that when people have fundraisers, those are the people who will write a $500 gift certificate to support our community.”
Howe said that in return, given the hard times many are still facing, people should “spend a little more locally, to help those friends and neighbors.”
Besides just shopping locally, Howe is recommending that people remember locally produced goods as presents, or perhaps gift certificates for dinners, excursions and recreation opportunities.
The chamber’s Winter Windfall promotion of past years, when patrons of Jackson stores received raffle tickets that went into a drawing for shopping sprees, wasn’t a good fit for 2020.
“After the continual increase in COVID cases in Teton County, the many meetings with the Business Development Committee and with the feedback we received from the stores involved in previous years programs, the idea of having a program that involved the handling of items between customers and staff was not popular in this climate,” Howe said.
“Our message will be better delivered this year by highlighting the ways people can support the local economy through the limited contact ways and online platforms businesses are currently operating this season.
“We gave some great new ideas that will work for ‘Winter Windfall’ for the future in a more appropriate time.”
But if Santa’s usual nightly visits to Town Square have fallen to virus threats, there is a way for kids to have their photo taken with, uh, well call it “Santa.”
Artist Haley Badenhop has painted a Santa mural that will be displayed at the Stage Stop From Dec. 1 to Dec. 24; parents are invited to pose their progeny in front of it for a snapshot to send to the grandfolks and other interested persons. There’s also a drop for letters to Santa; those who want a reply should remember to include their address.
Also scheduled is the annual lighting of the Town Square decorations, a blindingly festive event that usually draws a big crowd. The lighting will take place Friday at 5 p.m. and can be seen online by going to JacksonHoleChamber.com/events-calendar/town-square-lighting.
Though the lighting is in a public place and no one can stop you from going to see it in person, the chamber is asking that people who do show up adopt the same precautions being urged for those who visit the Santa Claus mural and everyone who is out doing their shopping: Wear your mask, stand back from each other, have a Happy Holiday.