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Balancing holidays and health: Businesses keep traditions alive

Updated: Dec 11, 2020

By Bertina Fan, Reagan Liu and Pavana Upadhyaya Dec. 8, 2020

As the holiday season begins, major businesses in the Bay Area are working to offer seasonal in-person experiences while following COVID-19 safety guidelines.

Many such businesses have been able to run as normal, albeit with a few adjustments. Almaden Valley Nursery—a family owned shop—sells a variety of plants and home decor

Ivan Zhu Art throughout the year along with

seasonal flora such as Halloween pumpkins and Christmas trees. The nursery opened its doors in May for the first time following one month of closure due to the pandemic. Upon re-opening, the nursery introduced new safety guidelines: only 15 customers are permitted to enter the store at a time, and all doors except one have been closed, allowing staff members to easily monitor the customer flow.

The store initially saw a decrease in sales due to the pandemic, but by significantly increasing their online presence on platforms such as Facebook and consistently updating their website, they have seen a steady increase in business during the holiday season.

“Since our re-opening, our business has slowly recovered. As residents continued buying pumpkins on the days leading up to Halloween, we saw our sales improving and approaching last year’s. Although we have not completely recovered, we are hopeful that the Christmas season will bring in more customers,” Shauna Aurandt, salesperson at Almaden Valley Nursery said.

Another local business called Spina Farms—a pumpkin patch in South San Jose—has also been trying to maintain a sense of normalcy. Just as in typical years, the farm has offered tours, hosted parties and provided class field trips. During the month of Halloween, the farm showcased 25

Ivan Zhu Art varieties of pumpkins, a corn maze,

hayride and barrel train rides. Unlike many nearby farms that were forced to close this year, Spina Farms was able to keep their pumpkin patch open by maintaining COVID-19 guidelines: they mandated customers to wear masks and enforced social distancing regulations.

“When I visited the pumpkin patch in October, I felt safe to an extent because everyone was wearing masks and practicing social distancing. However, the pumpkin patch was pretty crowded,” Junior Allie Francisco said.

Another popular holiday attraction that is open is the Winchester Mystery House, a historical landmark in San Jose known for its architectural irregularities and paranormal activity. Before the state of the pandemic in Santa Clara County escalated to the Purple Tier again, the Winchester Mystery House Ivan Zhu Art

offered guided tours through the

mansion, but due to safety concerns, the mansion will now only offer self-guided garden tours where guests follow a one-way path throughout the Victorian garden. However, locations that attract many visitors, such as the arcade and the cafe, are still closed.

Similarly, indoor malls such as the Westfield Valley Fair Mall have also adapted to the pandemic by implementing new social distancing regulations and limiting indoor operations. Customers are required to wear face coverings, and employees must receive a temperature check prior to starting their shifts. The mall is also training security to regulate the number of customers, and the management team has implemented a counting system that enables them to keep track of the number of customers entering and leaving to prevent the shopping center from overcrowding.

Despite these changes, one festivity at the Westfield Valley Fair Mall remains the same: pictures with Santa Claus. In order to maintain COVID-19 guidelines and prevent people from waiting in long lines, customers are required to make reservations through the mall’s website. Additionally, customers must wear masks at all times, and the Santa Claus actor is mandated to complete a health screening before being employed.

However, other holiday traditions have undergone more drastic changes. At Christmas in the Park, their usual walk-through event at San Jose’s Plaza de Cesar Chavez changed to a drive through event at History Park. In addition, this year, the attraction experienced drastic shortfalls in revenue due to a drop in sponsorship and concessions. In October, the

Ivan Zhu Art event had managed to secure 10,000

dollars, which is 40,000 short of the 50,000 dollars needed, according to KTVU News. As a result, even though the winter event was usually complimentary in previous years, it will now charge a fee of 20 dollars per car. Although Christmas in the Park had to implement these changes, it will continue to display Christmas trees. Furthermore, the event will continue their Holiday Brick Walk tradition: bricks decorated with a snowman, Christmas tree or snowflake are displayed on a portable wall along the drive through route.

“While I understand that the organizers had to prioritize public safety since we are in the midst of a pandemic, driving through Christmas in the Park will not carry the same holiday spirit and excitement value as walking through the park. I am sad to break my personal tradition of going to the event,” Sophomore Niharika Sharma said.

As these businesses rethink their services to keep end-of-the-year celebrations alive, safety is one of their top priorities. With the implementation of new countermeasures for customers’ and employee’s health alike, many people will be able to continue their holiday customs during the COVID-19 pandemic.


About the Contributors

Bertina Fan

Staff Writer

Bertina Fan is a sophomore at Leland High School and is a staff writer for The Charger Account. She likes to start off messages with "ヾ(°∇°*) Hi!"

Reagan Liu

Staff Writer

Reagan Liu is a sophomore at Leland High school and a staff writer at the Leland Charger Account. He loves music and listens to many different genres of music in his free time. He never skips a meal and consumes all the nutrients needed to stay healthy.

Pavana Upadhyaya

Staff Writer

Pavana Upadhyaya is a sophomore at Leland High School and is a staff writer. She likes to read nonfiction in her free time

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