The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has been responsible for many changes in the lifestyles of Florida Southern students, including the way Christmas traditions are celebrated.
Students at FSC this year will not be attending classes on campus this December, returning home after Thanksgiving break. Because of this, many of the commonly held Christmas events on campus have been cancelled or put on hold for updates surrounding the pandemic.
“I can understand why they’re having students head home for the semester but I still believe that we should be able to stay on campus. I believe offering classes in-person gives a better environment than online,” sophomore Isaac Garay said.
Despite this, Florida Southern has continued to try to keep the holiday spirit alive. On Oct. 30, the school began assembling the Christmas tree on Mr George’s Green.
The annual Winter Wonderland was rescheduled to take place on Nov. 18 where students could get holiday themed items, with the Winter Wonderland proper being moved to January.
“I guess that’s a good thing because that gives a chance for people to come back, however, I don’t even think they should be having it at all. No social distancing equals a COVID hazard,” junior Tyler Glynn said.
In response to the pandemic, the City of Lakeland’s annual Christmas parade was cancelled. Lakeland’s staple Christmas event would have been held for its 40th year until the pandemic struck.
The organizing committee cited the impacts that holding a large scale event would hold on the community in a post to the City of Lakeland’s website.
Julie Townsend, executive director of the Lakeland Downtown Development Authority has stated that despite the cancellation of the Christmas parade other Christmas events will still be held in downtown Lakeland. These events include a Holiday Walkabout on Dec. 1 and a holiday themed First Friday on Dec. 4.
The city’s annual Snowfest is also scheduled to take place on Dec, 4 and Dec. 5, being held at the Lake Mirror promenade instead of Munn Park. The event involves a walk through snow covered streets in Downtown Lakeland and has many activities like arts and crafts, a Santa’s workshop, and a giant snow globe with Mr. and Mrs. Clause. The famous snow mountain, however, will not be present this year.
Many students are preparing for their return home this semester, and with it preparing for their family’s holiday plans.
Social distancing and mask guidelines have changed activities across the nations to prevent the spread of the pandemic. Christmas activities and family traditions are no exception this year as people make holiday plans.
“I think many people’s plans may change, I know my family doesn’t plan on changing any plans, but even if they do change I think that Christmas spirit will remain with many of us this year,” Garay said.