Three-year-old Raymond Teo discusses his Christmas wishes with Santa during a socially distanced visit in Honeymoon Bay on Sunday afternoon. (Kevin Rothbauer/Gazette)

Three-year-old Raymond Teo discusses his Christmas wishes with Santa during a socially distanced visit in Honeymoon Bay on Sunday afternoon. (Kevin Rothbauer/Gazette)

Socially distanced Santa a success in Honeymoon Bay

24 families take advantage of COVID-safe visits in Honeymoon Bay

The Honeymoon Bay Community Society learned a lot this year about how to conduct drive-by visits with Santa Claus.

Hopefully, it’s knowledge they won’t have to put to use ever again.

With the annual Christmas dinner shelved due to the COVID-19 pandemic, society members were originally going to hold socially distanced visits with the jolly man at the Honeymoon Bay Community Hall. When even that proved to be too much for current protocols, they arranged for drive-by meetings outside on Sunday, Dec. 13.

It all went smoothly, although in hindsight, organizers would have scheduled visits closer together. They had planned for vehicles to arrive seven minutes apart, but four minutes would have been more than enough.

“Never having done a drive-by Santa visit before, there was no way to tell,” society president Dick Orman said.

In all, 24 families from Honeymoon Bay, Mesachie Lake, Caycuse and Lake Cowichan took advantage of the opportunity, with 43 kids getting to chat with Santa through rolled-down windows. Each child received a gift and a goodie bag from Santa, which masked-up volunteers passed to parents. Before pulling up alongside Santa, cars were first required to stop and families answered questions from volunteers to make sure they didn’t have COVID symptoms. An RCMP vehicle with lights flashing made sure other drivers on South Shore Road slowed down while they passed Santa’s set-up.

The Honeymoon Bay Community Society partnered with the Cowichan Lake Forest Co-op to make the event happen. Fifteen volunteers helped out with tasks ranging from buying and wrapping presents to stuffing goodie bags and controlling traffic, including nine who were out on Sunday afternoon.

“Everybody’s worked hard at it,” Orman said. “We were out here at nine in the morning setting up tents in the rain.”

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