Posted on: 11/30/2020 12:32:59 PM
AMHERST – During normal years, the Merry Maple celebration brings together crowds of families in the North Common in downtown Amherst, serving as the centerpiece of the holiday season as the big old tree is lit, as the music plays. is played and Santa Claus arrives.
While the annual event that takes place a week after Black Friday will continue, many aspects are recorded in advance and organizers are encouraging people to watch Friday’s event take place live, rather than in person.
Gabrielle Gould, general manager of the Amherst Business Improvement District, said on Monday that the magic of the Merry Maple would be best conveyed by watching from home a little before 5 p.m. Friday.
Supported by the Amherst BID and the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce, Gould said she hopes families will frequent downtown restaurants with a take-out meal and return home before the event.
“What we’re really trying to express is that at home, with curbside takeout, this is the place to see and enjoy it all,” Gould said.
Amherst residents will be able to follow the event on Amherst Media, and a live broadcast will also take place on the Amherst Downtown and Amherst Room Facebook pages.
The only live aspect of Merry Maple 2020 will be the arrival of Santa Claus in a horse-drawn carriage to complete the countdown, then the flip of a switch for the 5pm lights.
Recordings that replace the usual live segments will include a performance by the UMass Minuteman Marching Band as “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” singer Ilana Morris, winner of a song and dance competition sponsored by the Amherst Center Cultural District. , performing a rendition of “Winter Things” by Ariana Grande, Madeline Bonn of Amherst Ballet supervising the filming of student Sydney Mager performing “The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” by The Nutcracker, and local author Tony DeTerlizzi, of Spiderwick Chronicles fame, reading an excerpt from his book “The Broken Ornament.”
Gould said those who choose to come downtown to see the event will only get part of the experience and will be encouraged to stay six feet apart and wear masks and headwear.
The Merry Maple has been held annually since 1975, having been on hiatus during the years of the Vietnam War, and according to Amherst’s BID, the celebration was first documented by the old Amherst Record newspaper in 1966. Earlier celebrations, before the lights were on on the Merry Maple, had featured a Christmas tree set up on the Town Common for lighting.
In the meantime, the BID is supporting the implementation of more holiday lighting throughout the city center and will display festive decorations until February.
Scott Merzbach can be reached at [email protected]