Like everything else in 2020, ringing in the New Year will look different

  • A large group enjoys fireworks at a past Partybration at Santa’s Village in Jefferson. Courtesy photos

  • The Omni Mount Washington Hotel, pictured here in front of Bretton Wood, will have a limited New Year’s Eve schedule.

  • Lucy Querrand of Whitefield sits with an a snowman at a past Partybration at Santa’s Village. —Courtesy

Granite State News Collaborative
Published: 12/30/2020 6:07:30 PM

There haven’t been any big gatherings this year that haven’t been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, be it holidays, weddings, summer outings or family festivities.

New Years Eve, one of the biggest get-togethers on the calendar – in terms of number of people and celebrations – will not be exempt.

While you should be able to find a night out that fits your normal level of New Year’s Eve celebrating, you may have to search a little harder and be accepting of following many precautions set up to ensure safety for staff and revelers.

One of the biggest events in the Granite State – which attracts locals and out-of-state visitors alike – is New Year’s Eve Partybration at Santa’s Village in Jefferson. But the destination for both children and adults, that features Santa and Mrs. Claus, elves and reindeer, rides, food and drink, DJs and fireworks just wasn’t feasible, according to Jim Miller, one of “Santa’s Helpers.”

“We just figured it would be near impossible to do (Partybration) the way people have come to expect,” Miller said. “Even with the (state and Centers for Disease Control) restrictions eased ... we still were pretty much at capacity in November and December. Even though logistically we can do 35 percent capacity we would have had to charge a different rate visitors are used to paying.

“Between logistics and finances, to put on a safe event when we weren’t open in November and December, it just wasn’t going to happen for us. We tried as hard as we could, running through different scenarios. But Labor Day came and we made a decision that was in everyone’s best interest long-term. If we weren’t going to be open in November and December we couldn’t just open for one day on Dec. 31.”

Abigail Querrard of Whitefield, which is 10 miles southwest of Santa’s Village, had planned on attending this year’s event like she, her husband Denis, and daughter Lucy, 5 have the past two years.

“New Year’s Eve at Santa’s Village is wonderful,” Querrard said. “Everyone is happy, the food is unlimited, there are a lot of warming areas and there is a countdown at 8 p.m. so (people) can get kids home early.”

The Querrards will instead stay at home, watch movies, eat popcorn and still have a countdown at 8 p.m.

“We are definitely disappointed because we’ve enjoyed it the past couple years,” she said “But I get it.

“Lucy was a little sad. But for a 5-year-old she has a great understanding of (coronavirus) and she knows people need to stay home.”

It was a difficult decision for Santa and all his helpers. With an already limited season that runs on weekends Memorial Day to mid-December and weekdays Father’s Day until Labor Day, the Mount Washington Valley amusement park had to close in mid-March like every other business in the state. It didn’t reopen until July 1.

“We’ve been having a Christmas season for over 20 years now and New Year’s for over 10 years, so that’s a tradition for a lot of people and is something people look forward to,” he added

Bretton Woods and Omni Hotel, also in Jefferson, is another popular and well-attended New Year’s destination in New Hampshire.

Normally a multi-day event that features fine food, adult and family activities, exercise, movies and more, this year’s welcoming of 2021 will have a much different look.

In addition to limiting dinners to only guests of the hotel, there will not be a large party in the grand ballroom like year’s past when each dining room’s guests converge for one big gala event. Instead, there will be champagne, truffles and party accouterments in each room. There will be fireworks for guests only.

“With any decision we make at Bretton Woods, we put a lot of thought and discussion into it,” said Craig Clemmer, director of marketing. “We feel we made a choice that made the most sense for the resort and our guests. We feel we did the safest thing possible for people to come up and feel safest. We are in the hospitality business after all.

“This year is obviously going to be a little bit different but we are excited to have lodging available and have people in the hotel.”

For those who will be in the Mount Washington Valley, there will still be a fair amount of options to celebrate the days leading up to 2021, including fireworks in Schouler Park in North Conway; the Conway Scenic Railroad rides in North Conway; and tubing at Cranmore Tubing Park in North Conway, King Pine Tubing Park in Madison, and Great Glen Snowtubing Park in Gorham.

And, of course, there is always skiing, snowboarding and cross country skiing at the many local resorts.

“I don’t think it’s the limited New Year’s Eve celebrations that will impact visitors to the Valley,” said Marti Mayne, public relations manager for the Mount Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce. “I think it’s the general trend toward people not traveling after hearing multiple messages to stay home this holiday season. The overall sentiment among travelers this holiday season is to stay very close to home. That’s what’s impacting travel to the Valley, not a lack of events.”

Lori Moore of Nashua has been careful when she opts to go out during the pandemic. If she doesn’t feel safe she has no qualms turning around and leaving an establishment.

That is why she feels comfortable attending the New Year’s event at Lynn’s 102 Tavern in Hudson. The night will be highlighted by karaoke hosted by Dave-O. The precautions the establishment has taken since the pandemic started – singers must have their own karaoke microphones, only solo singers, and performers sing outside – will be enforced on Dec. 31.

“I had no reservations going to Lynn’s on New Year’s Eve,” said Moore. “They are really safe and do a great job enforcing (their rules). I am very pleased with that. All the staff have masks on and there are hand sanitizers everywhere.

“Honestly, I am more afraid of drunks driving on the way home than catching COVID at Lynn’s.”

These articles are being shared by partners in The Granite State News Collaborative. For more information visit collaborativenh.org.




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