HUNTSVILLE, ONT. -- With more people opting out of heading south this winter, the Town of Huntsville hopes to drive people north with Winter in Huntsville.

The program is designed to make Huntsville the go-to destination this season and includes day-long events with light shows, ice sculptures, and plenty of outdoor events.

Huntsville Mayor Karin Terziano says they hope to lure tourists and help the local economy.

But it's undeniable that there's a delicate balance between attracting visitors and respecting COVID-19 protocols.

Still, after a busy summer with few infections, the mayor is optimistic.

"We aren't trying to tempt fate by any means, but I think if we continue to do what we're doing, we can get through this without any damage," Terziano says.

"We put together a program that's going to take what is already a beautiful town to spend winter in, and turn it into a winter wonderland," says Jesse Hamilton, chair of the Huntsville Municipal Accommodation Tax Association and general manager of Deerhurst Resort.

Hamilton says being mindful of safety protocols is nothing new.

"Each of those experiences will have a capacity. So, in order to get in or partake, we'll be making sure x-amount of people can do it in order to be safe," he explains.

The mayor knows the excitement is laced with concern about potentially drawing thousands of out-of-towners during the second wave of the pandemic. "But we also know our business community needs the influx of people, so we're walking a thin line to keep everyone happy," Terziano says.

The support from tourists is welcome, as far as Jewel Keeter, a representative for The Friendly Fox, is concerned. The downtown shop opened during the first wave of the pandemic.

"Everyone has wanted to wear a mask, maintained social distancing, and has been really supportive with local businesses - which is important to us because we're new," she says.

Winter in Huntsville is expected to begin in early February, but those plans are dependent on the province's public health situation.