Those individuals hoping for a return to normalcy this holiday season will be disappointed to hear that a number of seasonal activities and gatherings across our region have already been either modified or outright canceled due to the pandemic.

In Princeton, City Manager Mike Webb confirmed last week that the annual Princeton Christmas Parade would be canceled this year due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. While it is disappointing to hear that the parade will not be possible this year, we understand the obvious concerns associated with having a large crowd gathered in the downtown area at a time when local virus numbers are raging.

The city of Bluefield is proceeding with a tree lighting ceremony next week, but social distancing rules will be enforced at the event.

The city of Bluefield’s annual tree lighting ceremony will be held Monday, Nov. 23, at 6 p.m. at the tree located near the “Tailyard” Dog Park located on Princeton Avenue. The city says COVID-19 guidelines will be in effect, and that masks and social distancing will be required. Citizens also are encouraged to enjoy the event from the comfort of their vehicles.

The town of Bluefield, Va., also is holding its annual tree lighting ceremony, which will be on Saturday, Nov. 21, at 6:30 p.m. at Jack Asbury Square in downtown Bluefield, Va. However, it will be mostly a virtual event, since new virus restrictions announced last week by Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam limits public gatherings to 25 people or less. Thus, no more than 25 people will be allowed at the event, which can be viewed virtually on the town’s Facebook page. 

One big event that is still a go this year is the annual Holiday of Lights event at Lotito Park in Bluefield. As in past years, the giant lights display will open to the public on Thanksgiving evening at 6 p.m.

Delegate-Elect Doug Smith, R-Mercer, will flip the switch to the holiday display this year. In addition, the Bluefield Police Department with a K-9 unit will be on hand, as well as the Bluefield Fire Department with Sparky to welcome visitors.

Social distancing guidelines will be in effect during the lighting ceremony and area residents are being asked to enjoy the event from the comfort of their vehicles as they drive through the park. The Holiday of Lights will run from Thanksgiving night through New Year’s Day.

Nothing is easy during a pandemic. And with local virus numbers surging once again, attempting to schedule holiday activities is even more challenging.

At this point, we are simply thankful that some local events are still being held. But those who attend these public gatherings will be required to follow the rules. That includes wearing a mask and practicing social distancing. 

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