Communities across southwest, central Virginia celebrate holiday season with weekend festivities

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Photo Courtesy of Downtown Roanoke, Inc.

Photo Courtesy of Downtown Roanoke, Inc.

(WFXR) — Even a pandemic can’t bring a stop to the holiday spirit! Despite the restrictions implemented on gatherings due to coronavirus concerns, communities and organizations across the region are holding events this weekend to celebrate the arrival of the Christmas season.

Here is a list of events scheduled to take place on Friday, Dec. 4; Saturday, Dec. 5; or Sunday, Dec. 6 around southwest and central Virginia:

AMHERST COUNTY

The Town of Amherst is hosting a Reverse Christmas Parade from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Friday, rain or shine. However, foot traffic is not allowed to view the parade, one-way southbound traffic will start at the traffic circle ending at Ambriar Shopping Center, and there will be now parking on South Main Street starting at the traffic circle beginning at 5:30 p.m.

To learn more about the changes involved in the Amherst Reverse Christmas Parade, watch this video.

You can also watch a livestream of the parade by the Amherst Lancers Tech Club starting at 7 p.m. by following this link.

In addition, the Amherst Police Department says the Filling Station at 102 Lexington Turnpike will be hosting a drive-thru toy drop-off from noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday.

Whether you stop by and drop off a toy, buy a lemonade or hot chocolate to fund the purchase of a new toy, or buy a raffle ticket to win a Coca Cola Bear to fund the toy drive, you will be helping the Filling Station work toward their goal of obtaining more than 500 new toys for Amherst and Amherst County children in need.

APPOMATTOX COUNTY

Appomattox County invites community members to “Experience the Holidays” on Saturday with a number of activities between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. in downtown Appomattox. These activities include the vintage and artisan “Merry Market,” food vendors, live music, the annual Christmas parade, Santa and Mrs. Claus in a snow globe, and more.

BEDFORD COUNTY

The Bedford Christmas Parade at Liberty Lake Park will be a drive-thru parade this year, scheduled to take place at 6 p.m. on Saturday. You can learn more about the modifications made to this year’s parade by checking out the Bedford Christmas Parade Facebook page.

BOTETOURT COUNTY

Even though the annual “Breakfast with Santa” was canceled due to the pandemic, Santa is going to be riding through Blue Ridge neighborhoods on a Blue Ridge Volunteer Fire Department fire truck between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Saturday. However, children are asked to stay away from the road until the truck has completely passed.

Click here for the approximate schedule of Santa’s route through Blue Ridge.

You can also look for Santa Claus riding a fire truck in Buchanan from 5 to 7 p.m. every Saturday in December.

On Saturday, Dec. 5, you can look for him along James River Terrace/Southwest Avenue, Brittani Circle, Red Horse Lane, Newtown Road, Spottswood/20th Street, and Chenault Street.

For the list of his other routes around Buchanan this month, follow this link.

CAMPBELL COUNTY

Rain or shine, the Town of Altavista and the Altavista Area Chamber of Commerce are still holding a Reverse Christmas Parade from 6 to 8 p.m. on Saturday. The Facebook event description says the floats and participants will be stationary around English Park while the whiles drive around the park to look at them.

FRANKLIN COUNTY

Festive Fridays kick off in Uptown and Downtown Rocky Mount on Friday from 3 to 8 p.m. The them for the first night is Flannel Friday.

There will also be Festive Fridays on Dec. 11, which is “Ugly Christmas Sweaters” themed, and Dec. 18, which has a theme of Christmas characters.

“Enjoy a stroll around town to shop and dine at our various businesses, take in the wonderful lights and decorations, listen to cheerful holiday tunes, and even wave at Santa!” the Festive Fridays Facebook event description says.

GILES COUNTY

Even though the Town of Pembroke‘s annual Christmas parade was canceled due to coronavirus restrictions, members of the Pembroke Police Department will be “caroling on wheels” starting at 5 p.m. on Saturday. Residents are asked to watch from their streets or homes as the music and musicians drive by on trucks , SUV’s, and tractors with trailers behind.

In addition, the Palisades Restaurant in Eggleston is set to hold its Santa brunch at 11 a.m. on Sunday, although with a few changes. Find out more here.

The Town of Pearisburg is also hosting a number of Christmas events this weekend, including the Pearisburg Junior Woman’s Club 35th annual Breakfast with Santa in a drive-thru format on Saturday, the Giles County Rotary Club and Giles Historical Society’s Storytime with Santa on Saturday, Christmas with Santa at the Community Center followed by the virtual tree lighting on Sunday.

GRAYSON COUNTY

Fries Fire and Rescue says the “Small Town Christmas Cheer” Fries Christmas Parade is scheduled to take place at 6 p.m. on Saturday, with lineup beginning at 5 p.m. at the Old Mill parking lot. However, all attendees are asked to wear face coverings, follow social distancing, and observe any other COVID-19 guidelines.

HALIFAX COUNTY

Halifax County authorities are asking the community to help with the eighth annual “Stuff the Cruiser” project by helping stuff a sheriff’s office patrol cruiser with new toys, coats, and gloves for children in need between the ages of 3 and 17.

“It’s that time of the year again when Santa Claus trades in his sleigh for a Halifax County Sheriff’s Office patrol cruiser,” the sheriff’s office said.

According to authorities, the Halifax County patrol cruiser will be on display and ready to be stuffed starting at 10 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday at the South Boston Walmart.

LEXINGTON

On Friday, parade floats and vehicles will be parked along the right hand side of Main Street between Henry Street and McDowell Street from 6 to 7:30 p.m. while cars drive past on the left hand side to enjoy them as part of the Lexington Reverse Christmas Parade.

Also, according to Main Street Lexington, the “North Pole Express” mailbox will be located on the Main Street parade route so you can hand over your letters to Santa’s elves and they can put it right in the mailbox.

MONTGOMERY COUNTY

The Blacksburg Parks and Recreation Department’s “North Pole Fantasy” Reverse Christmas Parade will be held along the 900 block of Patrick Henry Drive from 7 to 8 p.m. on Friday.

Spectators are asked to enter the parade at the intersection of North Main Street and Patrick Henry Drive to enjoy the staged parade from the safety of their vehicles.

In addition, you can watch the virtual holiday tree lighting in downtown Blacksburg — featuring the Mayor of Blacksburg, as well as Santa and Mrs. Claus — on Facebook Live at 5:50 p.m. on Friday

However, if the parade is canceled for inclement weather, it will not be rescheduled, but the tree lighting ceremony will be postponed to Monday, Dec. 7, at 5:50 p.m.

RADFORD

Due to weather forecasts, the Handcrafted Holiday Pop-Up Market will take place from noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday at the NRVCS Parking Lot. This event will feature live music and a number of local artisans. For more information about the performers and vendors at the pop-up market in Radford, as well as the changes made on account of weather and the coronavirus, follow this link.

ROANOKE CITY

The Berglund Center is hosting its fifth annual Holiday Craft Show from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. There will be 175 vendors for all your holiday shopping needs, a 50/50 raffle, concessions, and more. You are also encouraged to bring a new, unwrapped toy for the Salvation Army Angel Tree.

Meanwhile, the Roanoke Valley SPCA is expecting a visit from Santa Paws at 1 p.m. on Sunday. Click here if you are interested in having your pet’s picture taken with Ol’ Saint Nick.

There are also ongoing holiday events in the Star City, such as 25 Days of Dickens and the Elf on the Shelf Scavenger Hunt in downtown Roanoke.

ROANOKE COUNTY

Except for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day — as well as dates that are sold out, such as Friday, Dec. 4; Saturday, Dec. 5; and Saturday, Dec. 12 — Roanoke County’s Illuminights at Explorer Park is open through Jan. 2, 2021. However, you need to purchase tickets in advance. You can buy your tickets by following this link.

SALEM

Mother Nature overpowered Father Christmas this week, leading to the cancellation of Friday’s reimagined Salem Christmas Parade and the postponement of the city’s tree lighting ceremony until 5 p.m. on Saturday.

If you prefer not to venture outside for the tree lighting Saturday evening — which will mark the official start to Salem’s holiday season — you can watch a livestream on the Salem Parks and Recreation Department’s Facebook page.

“We hate that the parade had to be cancelled, but Salem still has many great holiday events lined up in the coming weeks,” said John Shaner, Salem Parks and Recreation Director. “We hope families will take time to enjoy these in a safe manner and appreciate what we have to offer.”

Those other holiday events this weekend include the Gingerbread Festival at the Salem Museum from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday. You can get more information on the Salem-Roanoke County Chamber of Commerce’s Facebook page, but keep in mind that masks are required to enter the museum.

You can also take part in socially distant pictures with Santa and Mrs. Claus — which means no lap sitting — at the Salem Civic Center from 1 to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Photos will cost $10 and will be available for download until Thursday, Dec. 10, which means you can post them on social media or print them out. For more information about the social distancing, mask, and sanitation measures that will be implemented to keep this event safe, follow this link.

WYTHE COUNTY

The Wytheville Fire and Rescue Department will be transporting Santa Claus around town on a firetruck this weekend.

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Santa will tour the neighborhoods north of Main Street, spending the first two hours in the north and west areas and then the second two hours in the east and Cracker Barrel areas.

Then, from 1 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Santa’s big red truck will drive through the neighborhoods south of Main Street, spending the first two hours in the southwest areas and then the second two hours in the southeast areas.

The department says Santa will drive slowly through the neighborhoods so people can come out to greet him as soon as they hear the lights and sirens, but you are asked to stay in the yard or on the sidewalk so you can follow social distancing guidelines.

In addition, “Christmas Illumination Nights” kicks off on Saturday and runs through Dec. 26. This event allows community members to enjoy lights and decorations in downtown Wytheville, as well as throughout neighborhoods in Wytheville and Wythe County.

You can learn more about where the lights can be seen on the Wytheville & Wythe County Holiday Illumination Facebook page.

You can also register your home or business to take part in the Christmas Illumination Nights until Dec. 10 to be eligible to win a $100 gift certificate.

Meanwhile, the Wythe Arts Council is presenting “A Hometown Christmas” with the sixth annual Festival of Trees Dec. 5-12 at the Wytheville Heritage Preservation Center. Admission is free, and the event is scheduled to take placed 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Follow this link to learn more.

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