GILBERT, AZ — Two Gilbert Parks and Rec employees have tested positive for COVID-19 after dressing as Santa and Mrs. Claus at a town event.
A Gilbert spokesperson says the two, married part-time staff members were at the December 11 Polar Express Pajama Party, and the 'Holiday Cookies and Crafts' event on Saturday morning.
47 people attended the ticketed Polar Express party and 33 people, many kids, were at The Holiday Cookies and Crafts event.
"They did some good stuff. It wasn’t all bad," said former state health director, Will Humble. "They did limit the numbers."
The town also had a litany of mitigation measures, like mask-wearing, sanitization and social distancing.
But a spokesperson said not everyone followed the rules.
"There were a few families who chose not to follow our recommendations," the spokesperson said in an emailed statement. "Verbal reminders were given."
"If you’re going to have a face-covering requirement," said Humble. "Then you got to follow through and make sure that people are following the plan."
The town says they have notified all 80 people that attended and two other staff members, who had closer contact with the Mr. and Mrs. Claus employees, are in quarantine awaiting test results.
Some people believe the town is responsible for the potential exposure since they organized the ticketed events at a time when COVID cases are surging in the Gilbert zip codes and community spread is rising across the state.
Others though, are happy the town is still throwing holiday events and giving people the choice to continue the traditions.
"You have to leave that up to the individuals. I mean how long do kids appreciate a visit with Mr. and Mrs. Claus? You've got six to seven years," said Jeremy Bingham.
"I’m 100% fine with it because it’s personal freedom," said Jason Cvancara, a Gilbert father. "If you’re mad at the town for hosting an event, just don’t go."
After the potential exposure and positive cases, Gilbert Parks Recreation canceled the Polar Express Pajama Party and Adult Paint Party scheduled to take place on December 18 at the Gilbert Community Center.