MOUNT CARMEL — Santa’s second visit to Mount Carmel in as many Saturdays will be just as sweet thanks to a decision to allow the distribution of candy during the Dec. 19 Santa Run.

One week after his highly anticipated and heavily attended Santa on Main appearance last Saturday in downtown Mount Carmel, the big man will be taking his show on the road for an encore performance.

Every year, on the Saturday one week after the Mount Carmel Christmas Parade, Santa hops on the back of a Mount Carmel Fire Department fire truck and tours every street in town.

Due to COVID-19 concerns, the parade was canceled this year in favor of the more socially distanced and safety- minded Santa on Main event.

However, neither the town’s leaders nor its residents were willing to cancel the time- honored Santa Run tradition.

Santa will be pulling out around 8 a.m. on Saturday, and local residents will know when he’s getting close because the fire truck siren will be getting louder and louder.

If you’re out riding around Mount Carmel Saturday, and you make the observation that Santa appears be in two places at the same time, there’s no reason to be alarmed. It’s just a little Christmas magic.

Old St. Nick still has a few tricks up his sleeve.

Although the Santa Run was never really in jeopardy of being canceled, one issue that was hotly debated during the November Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting was whether Santa or one of his helpers would continue the tradition of throwing candy to those who greet him by the side of the road as he passes.

City Manager Mike Housewright reported to the BMA in November that due to COVID-19 concerns and the potential for liability claims that the virus was spread by candy, the Santa Run wouldn’t be covered by insurance if candy was distributed.

“They (the insurance provider) are now saying they will stand behind us,” Housewright told the Times News on Wednes- day. “Obviously in a corona world they’re not keen on us distributing candy, but they will cover the event.”

Housewright added, “Whoever is distributing it, and I don’t know if that will be Santa or an elf, but that person will be masked and gloved, and they will be the only one who has had contact with the candy.”

No one recalls exactly when the Santa Run began, but retiring Chief Financial Officer Tammy Conner, who has worked at City Hall for 24 years, said it’s taken place every year she’s been there.

“We’re grateful that the community can continue a tradition like this in a pandemic environment when so many holiday events have been canceled,” Housewright added.