Another mid-Michigan seasonal tradition has been canceled because of the pandemic.

Yeah, yeah, we know - 2020 is canceled. It's something we have no control over, as much as we wish we did. I'll be honest, though - this one is concerning because it's so much later in the year, which could mean that other Christmas events will be canceled, too.

Every year, the village of Ashley, Michigan transforms their town into a Christmas wonderland, starting in November, all the way through the holidays. The event features daily rides on the North Pole Express train, live reindeer, shopping, food, and entertainment.

The following is their statement on this year's event:

The Ashley Village Council and the Ashley Country Christmas Planning Committee are heartbroken to announce that there will not be a 2020 Village of Ashley Country Christmas. The Country Christmas has been the destination for the thousands of guests on the North Pole Express excursions operated by the Steam Railroading Institute since 2013. We have so enjoyed our guests from all over Michigan, the United States and the world arriving by train and driving in to the festivities. Given the uncertainty of the health department and the village’s insurance company, the difficult decision was made to not continue to plan the Country Christmas for this year.

At every step in our decision process, we considered the impact on everyone involved, along with the time and effort, deadlines fast approaching, vendor contract requirements, and the overall costs of the event that go into planning the Country Christmas. The safety and health of our guests, volunteers, entertainers, vendors and our entire community is our priority when making our decisions. We are currently in Phase 4 of the Governor’s Michigan Safe Start Plan. Large gatherings like ours hosting over 4800 guests each weekend are not allowed until Phase 6. To advance into Phase 6 requires 30 days with no new COVID-19 cases, a vaccine and treatment medication. Reaching these risk prevention levels soon enough, and having the full experience of the joyous Country Christmas we strive to present is just not feasible for 2020.

Evaluating all these factors led to the decision that we cannot confidently plan for a 2020 Country Christmas. We are disappointed and know this is disappointing to our guests and to our community. Please join us in looking ahead to a joyous Country Christmas in 2021.

Anne Paksi, President
Ashely Village Council
Roger Keck, Chair
Ashley Country Christmas Planning Committee

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