By Parry Sound-Muskoka MPP Norm Miller
As the weather gets colder, our minds turn to fall events.
I know children are looking forward to Hallowe’en. Families will have to make a decision about whether their children go trick-or-treating. Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit medical officer Dr. Gardner and Ontario chief medical officer Dr. Williams have both said they believe it can be done safely in our area as long as precautions are followed.
They suggest going out with members of your own household only and making sure everyone (trick-or-treaters, parents and those handing out candy) wears a mask. They are of course referring to a cloth mask not a costume mask so you may have to find costumes that work with a cloth mask. Don’t go out or give out candy if you feel at all unwell. Avoid high-touch areas like handrails and carry and use hand sanitizer.
And of course, maintain physical distancing. Dr. Williams suggests handing out candy using tongs but I’ve heard some interesting alternatives like using a piece of pipe to create a candy shoot or luge to hand out treats without getting close to the children.
And please remember all the usual safety tips. Have something reflective or bright on the costume, be careful crossing the road, and drivers, please be extra careful on Hallowe’en night.
Unfortunately for older kids, Hallowe’en parties and school dances shouldn’t be happening this year unless they are virtual.
Then comes Remembrance Day and like everything else that is going to look very different this year. Some communities in Parry Sound-Muskoka have cancelled their Remembrance Day Services while others are recording a service in advance or going ahead with a small number of people in attendance.
Being that this year was the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, it is unfortunate that we cannot gather to show that we remember the sacrifices that our veterans made to protect our country and our way of life.
With aging veterans being among the people most vulnerable to COVID-19, veterans’ parades will not be happening this year. The Royal Canadian Legion is discouraging volunteers from going out to sell poppies but the Legion and our veterans need our support more than ever.
A great way to show we do remember and to support the Legion is to buy and wear a poppy mask available at the Huntsville Legion. You can also look for poppy boxes in stores or, if you are not going out, the Legion has an online store where they sell clothes, accessories, and other poppy themed items including masks. www.poppystore.ca
Early in the pandemic, and even now, there are some people complaining about the sacrifices they are being asked to make to protect the rest of the community. As we remember the sacrifices of past generations, I hope that we can all see that being asked to stay home, avoid gatherings, and wear a mask is a small price to pay for the health of our friends and neighbours.
This year, please don’t attend a Remembrance Day ceremony, but I encourage everyone to take some time on November 11 to remember the young men and women who have given their lives for our country. Watch a Remembrance Day Ceremony on television or learn something new about Canada’s military history.
And as we prepare for the holiday season, our communities are finding innovative ways to help us celebrate without crowding together. Here in Huntsville, instead of standing on the side of the main street to watch the Santa Claus parade, the Rotary Club of North Muskoka is encouraging people to decorate their homes and businesses with lights and register to be part of Santa’s Light Up the Night Contest and Tour. Decorations are to be up by November 20 and there will be a map available so families can tour the displays in the safety of their own car. I want to thank the Rotary Club for working to create a fun holiday experience in place of the Santa Claus parade this year.
Beyond these events, with fall comes the end of the busy tourist season and some peace and quiet. While we might enjoy the shorter lines in the grocery store and being able to find a parking space on the main street, our local stores aren’t as happy to see the visitors leave. As you start to plan your Christmas shopping, I urge you, this year more than ever, to look for local gifts. Even if you are shopping online, please try to support local stores or buy locally made products.
Photo of MPP Norm Miller is courtesy of his office. Queen’s Park photo “June 2012 Ontario Legislature Toronto” by Priscilla Jordão, via Wikimedia Commons, is licensed under CC BY 2.0 / Cropped from original.
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