The Most Wonderful Time of the Year Is Imperiled by a Pandemic. Here’s How Portland Is Adapting.

It's a very COVID Christmas.

MAN IN THE BUBBLE: Leroy Barber, aka Black Santa, will greet children from inside a giant plastic snowglobe this Christmas.(Christine Dong)

It's beginning to look…well, only somewhat like Christmas.

Sure, there are trees in windows and lights strewn across porches, and chances are someone's already caught a buzz off some boozy eggnog. But like the rest of 2020, this holiday season just feels a bit off.

In Portland, many winter traditions are on hold. Peacock Lane is dark. Lloyd Center is a ghost town. Santa's lap is off-limits, and the safest way to view the big Douglas fir in Pioneer Courthouse Square is via webcam.

If we're being honest, most of us will have to settle for simply having a passable Christmastime this year. Everyone is stuck away from home, and not even the bars will be open to serve as surrogate family rooms.

But if there's any tinsel lining this sad, emaciated, Charlie Brown-ass tree of a year, it's the resourcefulness it has brought out from every corner of the city. And the holidays are no different.

In this issue, we highlight Portlanders who've refused to throw in the stocking, from the professional Santa who'll greet kids from inside an actual plastic bubble (page 12) to the elephant keeper whose bright idea saved one of the zoo's grandest events, and made it even more popular (page 16).

There's the figure skating coach who drove six hours to the nearest open ice rink to give her students a chance to compete. There's the veteran musician who's adapting his long-running annual holiday concerts to television for the first time. And there's the nursery reporting booming sales for real Christmas trees—and for its home setup service, which it calls "the Marriage Saver."

Clearly, in this strange time, people are desperate for some semblance of traditional holiday cheer. And while it may be harder to find right now, it's still out there. It might not look the same. But it can still be wonderful.

Matthew Singer, WW Arts & Culture Editor

As One of Portland's Few Black Santas, Leroy Barber Couldn't Just Cancel This Year. His Solution? A Giant Snow Globe.

When Ice Rinks Closed Around the State, a Portland Figuring Skating Coach Still Found a Way for Her Students to Compete in the National Championships

Christmas Tree Sales Are Booming This Year—and One Portland Farm Wants to Make Sure Buying One Won't Wreck Your Marriage

Musician Michael Allen Harrison's Christmas Concerts Have Been a Portland Holiday Tradition for 30 Years. This Year, He's Coming Straight Into Your Home.

Turning ZooLights Into a Drive-Thru Was a Desperate Pandemic Pivot. It's Now More Popular Than Ever.

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