At the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce quarterly Manchester division Zoom meeting Wednesday morning, local business owners and town officials looked ahead to the "holidays" with a new eye for working together creatively to keep seasonal traditions alive with a balanced hand on public safety and supporting local retailers and restaurants.
After all, October triggers the community dominoes, starting with Halloween, then rolling into Thanksgiving and then, of course, Christmas by the Sea, the weekend-long local festival that typically kicks off the first weekend of December. And it was Christmas by the Sea that was the focus Wednesday. Typically, the event starts Friday with an evening "Holiday Stroll" of downtown, continues with Santa's arrival by lobster boat Saturday morning to meet kids at the Manchester Community Center and ends with the popular community gathering for hot chocolate and the lighting of the Friendship Tree Sunday at the Town Common. The weekend is typically enhanced with smaller parties and celebrations that roll along with official fare, making the whole weekend feel, well, appropriately festive. And this year's further complication lies in Manchester's hallmark, 375th anniversary milestone and its yearlong celebration sunsetting at the year's end.
This backdrop was the biggest elephant in the planning room as businesses came together with community officials. Open to everyone, the Chamber's local division meetings are attractive to attendees because they offer businesses the chance to connect in a less formal way with town officials. Wednesday's meeting was attended by BOS Chairman Eli Boling, Town Administrator Greg Federspiel and Police Chief Todd Fitzgerald.
Everyone knows this year will be different with COVID precautions, but the conversations are already starting to understand what will be different, and how. For town officials—Boards of Selectmen and Health, as well as the town administrator—planning is key.
Chamber president Ken Reihl .