If it were a holiday special, it would be called How The Pandemic Stole Christmas.
Town commissioners in Lake Waccamaw Tuesday voted not to have the town’s Christmas Parade this year, and to decide in November whether to have a scaled-down version of the popular Christmas tree lighting event.
“It’s really the safest thing to do,” Mayor Daniel Hilburn said.
Katherine Foley, one of the event organizers, advised the board that due to the ongoing pandemic, and projections that the virus could last into the winter, “I would suggest we not have a parade at all.
“The volunteers have to have contact with all the people involved in the parade,” she explained. “Social distancing can’t be maintained in a case like this.”
Hilburn said the Christmas tree lighting and candle walk has been modified from years past. Participants – as many as 100 – have traditionally met at the town hall, where candles would be distributed and one or two Christmas songs sung. Then the crowd would walk up Flemington to the community Christmas tree and nativity scene for more songs, prayer and storytelling. Afterwards, cider, hot chocolate and cookies would be enjoyed at the Depot Museum.
If the event is held this year, Hilburn said, there will be no singing. To avoid possible hand-to-hand contamination, all participants will be asked to bring their own flashlight or lantern. There will be no social at the depot, either, he explained.
I think if we make these changes, we can have a safe event that people will still enjoy,” Hilburn said.
While the date is tentatively set for the traditional first Friday in December, commissioners by consensus opted to wait until their November meeting to make a final decision, due to the state’s concerns that cooler weather may lead to a new surge in Coronavirus cases.
Hilburn noted that the town has already cancelled one of its other large events — the Safe Night for Kids on Halloween — due to the pandemic.
“We have to keep people safe,” he said, “but we can’t go on like this forever.”