VALATIE—The Valatie Santa Claus Club will not be delivering gifts to village residents’ houses this Christmas Eve due to the worldwide pandemic. But in a statement on their website and Facebook page club members stressed that they will return to the tradition of bringing presents to the homes of children 10 years old and younger in the village in the future.
The village has also canceled the annual Winter Walk, normally held in mid-December, which includes a parade down Main Street and events at local stores.
On November 9, the Valatie Santa Claus Club posted a statement on their website saying that after a discussion with club members and families in the village “and consulting with Santa and Mrs. Claus” the club has made the decision to not deliver toys in the early evening to village homes this year. According to a press release in 2010, the club passes out gifts to about 500 or 600 kids in the village.
The statement on the Facebook page goes on to say that, “This was not a decision we came to lightly… Rest assured, the Valatie Santa Claus Club is not disbanding or ending Christmas Eve deliveries. We plan to host our signature events including toy delivery and participating in Valatie Winter Walks in the future.”
Valatie is “the home of the Santa Claus Club, 1st in the Nation,” according to the signs posted along roads leading into the village. The club’s announcement on Facebook said that “for the past 74 years, the club has accompanied Santa to deliver gifts to the children of the Village of Valatie.”
The club’s website says it was started in 1946 by 15 area men to provide gifts for the poor. “Local clothing mills—an important source of employment—had died out and it was to be a bleak Christmas. To bring some Christmas spirit to the village, the men used money from their Army separation pay, and provided gifts on Christmas Eve for the children. Thus began the first Santa Claus Club in the nation,” the website says.
Since 1946, Santa and his sleigh have paraded through the streets of the village around 3:30 p.m. on December 24, a tradition that will continue this year. After the parade, club members and Santa normally visits children in their homes with gifts (after prearranging the visit with parents and family members).
According to the Facebook post, “Santa will still visit the village with the annual parade on Christmas Eve, but the Santa Claus Club will not be stopping at any individual houses this year. Please ensure your family follows all guidelines when watching the parade or watch from the comfort of your home.”
Other county communities are working on holiday events that will avoid crowds and stay within Covid-19 safety guidelines. Hudson Hall in the City of Hudson, which has hosted Winter Walk in early December every year for over two decades, plans to have events throughout the month this year, including Zoom calls with Santa. Kids can visit with Santa at Hudson Hall via Zoom on December 8 and 15 from 4 to 7 p.m., and December 9 and 16 from 3 to 6 p.m. The Zoom visits are free and reservations are required for a timed-entry. Reservations will be open on December 5. For more information go to hudsonhall.org
The Village of Kinderhook is offering its first annual Holiday Door Decorating Contest. A release on the village’s website says, “This contest will be just one part of Kinderhook’s new socially distanced holiday celebration, called December Nights, which will take place from December 1 to January 1.” At the November 18 board meeting, village Economic Director Renee Shur talked about the Kinderhook Business and Professional Association (KBPA) plan to decorate the Village Square in hopes of brining more people to the village and “bring some joy to the county.” More information is at www.villageofkinderhook.org
‘This was not a decision we came to lightly.’
Valatie Santa Claus Club
Normally in December the Village of Kinderhook hosts Candlelight Night and the Village of Chatham hosts a daytime WinterFest. Chatham Mayor John Howe said at a meeting in early November that since a drive-through Halloween event went well in the village, the board and fire company will continue to talk about having some sort of similar holiday event.
Another Santa Claus Club in Niverville has now disbanded due to the pandemic. That club’s members posted on their Facebook page that “It is with great sadness, but with great faith in our community, that we announce the conclusion of the Niverville Santa Claus Club. Due to a number of complications the last few years, and now the risk of exposing Santa and your families to the spread of germs, we will be unable to continue this beloved tradition.”
Currently Covid-19 infection numbers are going up in the county and the country. On November 11, Governor Cuomo announced that “bars, restaurants and gyms or fitness centers, as well as any state Liquor Authority-licensed establishment, will be required to close from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. daily. Restaurants will still be allowed to provide curbside, food-only pick-up or delivery after 10 p.m.” And he said that indoor and outdoor gatherings at private residences will be limited to no more than 10 people. “These gatherings have become a major cause of cluster activity across the state,” the statement from the governor’s office says.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website also says that “small household gatherings are an important contributor to the rise in Covid-19 cases.” The CDC website gives alternatives to holiday events that would be safer during the pandemic like celebrating virtually or with members of your own household. More information is at www.cdc.gov