25th Annual Christmas Stroll looks different this year

   The 25th annual Christmas Stroll, hosted in downtown Sheridan, took place on Nov. 27, the day after Thanksgiving, kicking off the Christmas season. While the Christmas Stroll would usually begin at 4 p.m. and going to 8 p.m., this year was different from any other. This year, the Christmas Stoll was held as an all-day event to help spread out shoppers and give everyone an opportunity to get their Christmas shopping complete while benefiting the local businesses. COVID regulations show the importance of social distancing and how it can limit the spread of COVID, making the stroll all day helped to spread out shoppers and allowed for social distancing, providing a more comfortable experience for shoppers. The Christmas Stroll this year started at 8 a.m. and went until 8 p.m. Several members of the public voiced their takes on this year’s setup. With the event being all day, Main Street was not blocked off from traffic as it has been in the, so shoppers were huddled onto sidewalks rather than being able to walk through the whole street. Business owners, along with some shoppers as well, enjoyed the all-day stroll as it created more spread and more opportunities for shoppers to get their Christmas shopping complete while shopping locally. 

   There are usually tables set up with hot cocoa and hotdogs but this year it was left up to individual businesses and organizations. The community of Sheridan Wyo is a resilient one, and they were not going to let COVID ruin their annual Christmas kickoff. Even though Sheridan tried it’s best to keep things as normal as possible, this year was just not the same. There were not as many musicians or bands playing out on the streets like in past years.

   Public Health official Ian Hunter issued the Public Health Orders, and Wyoming State Health Officer Dr. Alexia Harrist signed off, approving the orders in 12 Wyoming counties. The CDC emphasizes the effect COVID has on the community and the virus’s severity. They make it very clear that the virus is contagious even if the carrier is asymptomatic. The mask mandate went into effect Nov. 18 and will remain in effect until at least Dec. 4. Masks are a must throughout the community and the Christmas Stroll was no exception. To keep the community and it’s members safe, all necessary precautions must be taken and masks are included. Most community members were respectful of the mandate, but like any new rule, there was going to be a bit of resistance.

   The Christmas Stroll is a great opportunity for the community to connect. Hundreds of local businesses participate in the Christmas Stroll every year, creating great opportunities for townspeople to find deals on items on their Christmas shopping lists while supporting local businesses. Aside from all the great deals, the street was filled with bright lights and plenty of Christmas spirit.

   The Sheridan County Chamber of Commerce was head of the preparations for the Christmas season including the “stroll” buttons. Stroll buttons went up for sale at the beginning of November for $5 each. Helen “Lytle” Campbell was this year’s designer of the commemorative stroll button, and her original artwork was auctioned off. Each week there is a drawing with prizes ranging anywhere from $100-$1,000 in Chamber bucks which started stoll day and will go to Dec. 22. Members of the Sheridan County Chamber of Commerce will be out looking for shoppers sporting their stroll buttons Monday-Saturday. Shoppers are selected for an entry to the drawing by being caught with the stroll button while shopping locally. “Chamber Bucks” are issued by the Sheridan County Chamber of Commerce as an incentive for the community to participate in and support various activities and events within the community. They are issued in the form of a gift check, that can be used as payment at any local business or organization. If shoppers matched their stroll button number to the winning number in any participating business, they had an opportunity to win.

   An extra incentive for families, children especially, is Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus at the old fashioned ticket booth at the WYO Theater. Santa Claus was there handing out small, individually wrapped candy canes through the slot in the glass divider of the ticket booth. After talking with several families, many felt that while they understood the precautions that were being taken, they felt there may have been more that could have been done to give kids that unforgettable experience of sitting with Sata and telling him their Christmas wishes. Santa had three sessions throughout the day, each two hours long.