TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The Winterhaven Festival of Lights will not continue their holiday tradition this year due to COVID-19 impacts.
The neighborhood of Winterhaven has traditionally decorated homes with festive lights for decades and this year would have been the 71st event.
“It is a bright spot because a lot of people look forward [to it] and have been coming here for years and years," said Rudy Torres, a Winterhaven homeowner. "But it’s understandable with what’s going on, and with COVID-19 on the rise, safety is first. If it’s a matter of closing down one year, we will just make it twice as better next year.”
Winterhaven brings in thousands of pounds of donations for the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona. With the pandemic, those donations are needed more than ever.
“This event brings out a huge spirit of giving in the Tucson community and Pima County," said Julie Wycoff, who offers wagon rides each year. "I mean, people come from all over Arizona, we have had people come from Germany, everybody stops and picks up their donations for the community food bank.”
The following message is from the Winterhaven Festival of Lights:
"The heartbreaking decision has been made, after careful consultation with the City of Tucson and the Pima County Health Department, to cancel this year’s Winterhaven Festival of Lights. We believe what is most important is the safety and wellbeing of our Tucson community during the continuing COVID-19 pandemic and that holding our traditional event for the community would not serve to ensure that. We look forward to next year and the hope that we will be able to hold the festival safely for the 2021 holiday season.
To help make certain that the community is aware of the cancellation, and to minimize non-resident traffic in our neighborhood that might be caused by community members who do not realize that the event is cancelled, the City of Tucson will be providing some traffic control barricades and signage. We are thankful for this assistance that is made possible with the help of Council Member Paul Durham’s Ward 3 Council Office.
We would like to also thank our incredible Title Sponsor, Tucson Electric Power (TEP), for continuing to support us this year by helping us spread the news to the Tucson Community, and for always supporting the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona. Although we won’t be gathering throughout the streets of Winterhaven this year for the festival, we ask the Tucson community to please continue to support the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona.
We encourage families to follow the COVID-19 guidelines from the City of Tucson and the Pima County Health Department on how to keep safe and stay healthy while celebrating this holiday season. Posted below are helpful links with that information.
M. Hall, Winterhaven Festival of Lights Chairperson"