The name may be slightly different, the entries may be a bit less, but the spirit remains the same.
This Saturday, Dec. 5, the Oakdale Enrichment Society (OES) will host Christmas Cruise 2020. As is tradition from past years, line-up for the event will begin at 4 p.m. in front of the FES Hall on North Lee Avenue. The Cruise will begin promptly at 5 p.m.
Starting at Oak and Poplar, it will conclude at the intersection of E Street and Second Avenue.
“As far as it being different, it’s going to be a drive through cruise,” OES President Cher Bairos said. She added that in order to host the “cruise” the OES crew must request participants abide by CDC regulations.
Participants will be asked to wear masks, maintain a maximum of three households per entry as well as maintain social distancing guidelines with spectators.
“This is a drive thru event,” Bairos emphasized, adding that each participant will have temperatures taken prior to the cruise to ensure safety precautions are met.
There will also be no interaction between participants and spectators this year. No physical contact by way of handshakes, candy distribution or toys given out along the route by agencies such as the Oakdale Police Department.
“We have to keep a list of all participants, so if something was to happen they can contact the leader of the given floats,” Bairos shared. “I believe it’s going to run smoothly, we just need to do what they say by taking temperatures and making sure that everybody has their form turned in.”
“I just really want to focus on the Oakdale community,” OES Secretary Lisa Ballard stated. “Be cautious, but come on out. Bring your chairs, social distance. Come on out to see the lights and the cruise. No one will be coming out to shake your hand, throw candy at you. Just come out and enjoy a little holiday spirit.”
The leaders of the local non-profit shared they first began planning to continue with the tradition in early October.
“The City and OPD (Oakdale Police Department) support us so much, we will obey their guidelines, because the people need it,” Ballard continued.
As testament to Ballard’s feelings, for the fourth year volunteers collected signatures from residential homes along the route. For the fourth consecutive year, they did not encounter one objection to the cruise.
Though the number of participants at presstime was lower than in the past, the group is hopeful and anticipate that people will continue to sign up throughout the week, as well as the day of. Forms are imperative for participation and must be completed in order to join the cruise.
Spectators are also encouraged to distance appropriately, while enjoying the event.
“The people need to be out and the kids,” Ballard said. “It may not be the Christmas we’ve always wanted and have had in the past, but you can still do things.”
“It’s going to be a great community event,” Bairos echoed.
The OES board members are hopeful that spectators will find their way down to North Third Avenue at the conclusion of the Cruise to support local businesses participating in the evening’s downtown market event.
“Our people are hurting down there,” Ballard said. “If we can help in any way, our OES group, by having this cruise and people going that way, maintaining safety as they do, we’re happy to do it. Oakdale Enrichment Society is a community. We do community events and help each other.”
For additional entry information or to obtain an entry form, contact Bairos at 209-496-1134 or e-mail OES95361@gmail.com. Entry is free to interested participants.