Cosumnes firefighters traditionally rescue Santa Claus from a rooftop in Old Town Elk Grove every year as part of the Old Town Elk Grove Dickens Faire. 

The Old Town Elk Grove Dickens Faire, the annual festival that showcases the Old Town neighborhood and kicks off the Christmas shopping season, will not be held this year.

Concerns over social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic as well as challenges posed by the Old Town Plaza’s renovations prompted the Old Town Elk Grove Foundation to cancel the event.

This year’s festival was to be held at the Old Town stretch of Elk Grove Boulevard on Saturday, Nov. 26. Organizers are now looking forward to next year’s Dickens Faire.

“After much discussion, the board has decided that there is no way to safely produce the event this year,” the foundation’s board president, Angela Perry said in a press statement. “We are planning a bigger and better event in 2021, and look forward to hosting it in the newly remodeled Old Town Plaza.”

The Dickens Faire is now among several Elk Grove festivals that were canceled this year, due to the COVID-19 situation, and the orders of state and Sacramento County officials to not have large gatherings in order to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus. Canceled events include the Elk Grove Western Festival, the Strauss Festival of Elk Grove, and the Elk Grove Multicultural Festival.

This year’s Elk Grove Giant Pumpkin Festival will only have its giant pumpkin weigh-off contest on Oct. 3 at Elk Grove Regional Park, and not a weekend-long festival there.

The city of Elk Grove started the Illumination Holiday Festival at their District56 civic center last December. City spokesperson Kristyn Laurence told the Citizen that organizers are evaluating options for that event that’s tentatively scheduled for Dec. 5.

As for the Dickens Faire, plans for the traditional lightning of Old Town’s Christmas tree have not been announced, as of press time.

Another Dickens Faire custom that has delighted children for nearly 30 years has been the Santa Rescue. The festival tradition has Santa Claus get marooned by his reindeer on the rooftop of the Elk Grove Lock & Safe shop. Cosumnes firefighters then arrive to rescue him, but they attempt unusual techniques such as telling Santa to jump into their open arms. Children then remind the fire crew they actually have a ladder truck they can use to rescue Jolly St. Nick.

“The men and women of the Cosumnes Fire Department have a tremendous responsibility to ensure that Santa Claus safely comes to Elk Grove and Galt each and every year,” Cosumnes Fire Chief Mike McLaughlin told the Citizen. “This year will be no different. We will need to coordinate better with the North Pole this year to ensure that Santa stays healthy and may not be able to be out in public, I promise you, as your fire chief, that the Cosumnes Fire Department will make sure that the kids in Girl And Boyland will have a jubilee. You better watch out; you better not cry; you better not pout; I'm telling you why; Santa Claus is coming to town.”