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Find joy with light display

A drive-thru holiday lights display is an event that seems tailor-made for a social-distancing world.

But even Joy of Christmas at Harvey S. Firestone Park in Columbiana had to make some changes for 2020.

One casualty is the gingerbread house display, according to Tricia Offenburg, executive secretary with the Columbiana Area Tourism Bureau.

“Last year we had over 167 gingerbread houses, but we lost that this year,” she said. “We tried everything we could think of. We asked if we could put clear shower curtains up, but we couldn’t find a way to keep it.”

Santa Claus will be there to hear children’s Christmas wishes, but they won’t be sitting on his lap. Santa will be behind nonglare plexiglas, and children will sit on a decorated bench in front of him.

Local organizations will be able to sell concessions, but they’ll be pre-bagged items, so no hot dogs or fresh popcorn.

Families still will be able to enjoy the light display from the comfort of their vehicles with more than a million lights creating 80-plus scenes. The 2020 edition includes seven new displays, including one inspired by the times — two gingerbread men standing six feet apart with a sign that says “6 Feet Apart.”

“We try to roll with the punches,” Offenburg said.

Harvey S. Firestone Park is undergoing a $3 million upgrade, so visitors will need to enter the park from the East Park Avenue / Lakeview Drive entrance.

Joy of Christmas will be open from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday through Sunday through Dec. 6 and then daily from Dec. 10 to 27.

Columbiana will have a reverse parade from 6 to 7 p.m. Friday on Main Street. The parade participants, including floats and marching bands, will be stationary, and visitors will be able to drive past the parade.

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