Paraders smile and wave in a previous year’s light parade. This year, the Moab Chamber of Commerce is coordinating a Light It Up contest for businesses and organizations. [Moab Sun News file photo]

The first weekend in December is typically a very festive one in Moab. As the tourist crowds dwindle and town quiets down, locals gather to celebrate the start of the winter holiday season with the annual tree lighting (attended by Santa Claus) and the light parade. This year, of course, is different, with the pandemic making such large public gatherings too risky. However, as with many time-honored traditions, dedicated community members are finding ways to celebrate safely: The Moab Chamber of Commerce is holding several events that are similar to the traditional ones but COVID-safe.

Virtual tree lighting and Santa

On Friday, Dec. 4 at 5 p.m., the Moab Chamber of Commerce will host a virtual tree lighting via Facebook Live and on its YouTube channel. Moab Mayor Emily Neihaus will do the traditional tree lighting countdown.

The Chamber of Commerce is also encouraging community members to submit short videos of turning their own holiday lights on. Videos of no more than 10 seconds may be sent to

From 5 to 6:30 p.m., Santa Claus will be live on air on KCYN Radio at 97.1 F.M. Santa may be reached by calling the station at 435-259-1035. Santa can also receive texts at that number and he and his elves will respond to texts with a phone call in the order they are received.

Lights on for Holiday Cruise

The Moab Chamber of Commerce is inviting and encouraging all Moab businesses and organizations to participate in the Light It Up Decorating Contest. Entries will be admired by the public during the Downtown Holiday Cruise from 6 to 8 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 5.

“Instead of a float in the parade, we are inviting all businesses and organizations to deck the town with lights and holiday decorations for the community to enjoy!” the Chamber said in a statement.

Santa will be cruising Main Street during the event, waving to children who may have to forego telling Santa their wish list in person this year.

Moab Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Laici Shumway said businesses and organizations should decorate in a way that is visible from the road. She suggested that businesses that have floats they normally drive in the parade could park them outside their place of business. Shumway said outdoor scenes, inflatables, window scenes and rooftop scenes could all make great entries.

The Chamber asked that businesses and organizations wanting to participate submit a registration form available on the Moab Chamber of Commerce Instagram and Facebook pages. The form may also be requested directly from the Chamber by emailing or calling 435-259-7814. The Chamber will advertise a list that will include all those who register, and viewers will be able to weigh in on who had the best display and will win the Chamber Traveling Trophy.

Shumway also said it is “the perfect year to stick close to home” for holiday shopping, in part because of a larger-than-average number of items for sale online that are on backorder, unavailable, or with delayed shipping this year.

“Combine that with the obvious hardships businesses have suffered, and it really makes sense to give an extra effort to support our local economy” this holiday season, she said.

Shumway said holiday shopping is “a great chance to really get to know what is on the shelves of our shops close to home” and that business owners can often order items that are not on their store shelves.

“ I think people would be surprised at what they can find close to home,” she said.

Businesses to light Main, tree lighting online and radio Santa

“The Moab Chamber of Commerce is holding several events that are similar to the traditional ones but COVID-safe.”

– Moab Chamber of Commerce

When: Friday, Dec. 4 at 5 p.m.

Where: Moab Chamber of Commerce YouTube channel and Facebook Live

When: Friday, Dec. 4 from 5 to 6:30 p.m.

Where: KCYN 97.1 F.M.

Contact: Call or text 435-259-1035

When: Saturday, Dec. 5 from 6 to 8 p.m.

Where: Main Street and roads by participating businesses

Cost: Free

Contact:, 435-259-7814