Terry Najarian shares the pain of his fellow business owners in Tombstone who have struggled the last nine months because of COVID-19 business and travel restrictions. And he knows how hard the lack of tourists has hurt his own actors.
So last week’s announcement by Mayor Dusty Escapule that the city was cancelling its long-planned and much anticipated Christmas Light Parade slated for Dec. 12 was the final straw for Najarian, who owns The Gunfight Palace on historic Allen Street.
“I understand how important Christmas activities are for everyone in Tombstone, both from a business perspective with shoppers and people going out to eat but also for kids and families,” Najarian said. “And we have many older residents who haven’t been able to socialize much the last few months who were really looking forward to that parade.”
Escapule explained last week the cancellation was in response to Executive Order 2020-59 issued by Gov. Doug Ducey on Dec. 2.
“We could not come up with a plan that would be feasible to have crowds gathering on Allen Street and having more than 50 people in one area,” Escapule said. “With COVID-19 on the rise, the Tombstone Chamber of Commerce and myself concluded it would be safer and more prudent to not have a light parade this year.”
On the night of the cancelled parade, some citizens took part in an impromptu “protest” parade through the city’s historic district to show city officials such an event could be done safely. And that got Najarian thinking about how businessowners and residents could work together to salvage some Christmas spirit for the community.
“I opened my business for an informal townhall meeting to talk with other owners like myself who were financially impacted by the cancellation of the Dec. 12 parade,” Najarian explained. “But it was apparent we all felt compelled to do something for the community, for those we know were looking forward to the event.”
Their inspiration, Najarian says, ended up being a Santa in the Park event that is being hosted Dec. 19 by the Tombstone Chamber of Commerce. That event is still on, according to the mayor.
“The Chamber submitted a plan for Santa in the Park to the City,” Escapule said. “They will have circled areas marked off 6 feet apart where the families will stand and masks are required.”
As a result, Najarian and others are going to take part in a walk down starting at Allen and Sixth Streets that will end at the Santa in the Park event on Third Street.
“I invite everyone to join me at 6 o’clock Saturday,” Najarian says. “We can carry lanterns or lights and sing carols as we go along sharing the spirit of the Season. Then once we get outside the park we can continue singing carols with the families there to see Santa.”
The support Najarian has received to the idea has been heartwarming, he says.
“The walk down is something all residents can take part in, safely I add, and it can provide wonderful memories at a time we need to share in something positive as a community,” Najarian said.
Ducey’s EO 2020-59 requires cities, towns, and counties to prohibit organized public events of more than 50 people unless local officials can ensure adequate safety precautions consistent with the CDC and Arizona Department of Health Services are incorporated in the event planning.
This is also a bull-riding contest scheduled for Saturday afternoon at the Shoot Out Arena that pits 20 riders against each other and some bulls. And on Sunday, Dec. 20 from Noon to 4 p.m. there will be a Pictures with Santa Paws at Mario’s Bakery Café on Allen Street.