Pearisburg’s long-standing Christmas traditions endure through pandemic

New River Valley News

PEARISBURG, Va. (WFXR) — Across Southwest Virginia, Christmas parades for our area’s cities and towns, alike, have been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pearisburg in Giles County is one of those towns.

“We know that a lot of people enjoy the parade,” said Town Manager Todd Meredith. “They’re going to miss it this year, but it was a decision that was made with public safety in mind.”

However, those who are passionate for the season aren’t letting COVID-19 having the last word.

“Once we cancelled the parade, it was the very next day we scheduled a Zoom meeting and started pitching ideas of what we could do safely,” said Hope Harrell, a member of the Pearisburg Merchants Association.

Harrell and her team came up with a total of eight events to help replace the lack of a Christmas parade, several of them starting this weekend.

“The holiday season is a great opportunity for our residents to fellowship, to come together, form community, and we felt like it was very important to ensure that we have those opportunities for the people who live in our town,” said Meredith.

Some of the events are long-standing, time-honored traditions with COVID-19 twists.

Breakfast with Santa, a 35 year tradition in Pearisburg, for example, will be a drive-thru this year, which will take place from 8 to 10 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 5.

“Kids won’t be able to talk to Santa or sit on his lap, so we have encouraged them to write letters,” Harrell said. “There’s a mailbox there that will take them. Santa will take them on with him.”

The town will even have their first tree lighting ceremony. It will be held virtually outside the town’s community center on Sunday, Dec. 6.

It’s not the grandest display, but the size of the tree doesn’t matter. According to Harrell, it’s bringing the town together that matters.

“It’s so special to see that,” she said. “Christmas should be magical, and just to see everybody pitching in and trying to make it special for people, to have something to do, to look at, it’s been wonderful.”

Other events include decoration competitions, one between neighbors and another between local businesses.

The local participation in the decorations has Meredith hopeful that the heightened holiday spirit can have an economic impact on the town.

“Really encourage people to shop local, support the local businesses, and do so in a way that builds fraternity and keeps everyone safe,” Meredith said.

“It’s been great to work within a community like that,” Harrell said.

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