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Cambria Christmas Market to return this year; petition urges lodge to hold off during pandemic

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The Cambria Christmas Market is set to return this November — but not everyone is excited. An online petition is gathering signatures hoping to stop the annual event this year, citing pandemic concerns.

The popular holiday attraction was cancelled last year due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Mike Arnold with the Cambria Christmas Market said this will be the 11th year of the annual market. 

“Our goal this year is to return to our normal Christmas market that we have each year," Arnold said. "It’s open a total of 22 nights from Nov 26 to December 23.”

Arnold said the event will follow local health and state mandates for COVID-19 precautions. All guests will be required to wear a face mask and hand sanitizing stations will be located around the market.

But the online 'Stop 2021 Cambria Lodge Christmas Market' petition is urging the lodge to hold off on the event this year, believing it will be a COVID-19 superspreader.

Russell Read, Cambria resident and attorney, started the online petition a week ago and had around 60 signatures as of Thursday. 

“As long as you're busing people, and you’re putting them in a crowd, there is no hope for social distance, number 1," Read said. "Number 2 — the idea that you’re going to enforce people wearing masks... I just don’t see that happening.”

Read also argues the market takes away tourism money from local retailers, negatively impacts the neighborhood with traffic and trash and isn’t consistent with Cambria’s water emergency proclamation.

“The applicant claims that they are only going to use 10-20 gallons a day, but that’s ridiculous," Read said. "You have increased use in his restaurant, increased use in his hotel, so you have all sorts of demand on our water supply which is unrealistic and unfair at this point.”

Arnold disagrees. He said the event draws in thousands into the town to explore local shops, and they use a shuttle system so people don’t park in local neighborhoods. 

“Without the event, we would still have a fully booked hotel. So our water use really doesn’t change," Arnold said. "During the event, all of our guests use porta-potties, we do sell bottled water. It doesn’t affect our water usage at all.”

The Cambria Planning Commission will be discussing the application for the Cambria Christmas Market on October 7. Read plans on submitting his petition during that time.

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