Sadly, many of Hawkins County’s annual Christmas attractions have been cancelled this year out of an abundance of caution during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many of the event organizers expressed their decision to cancel was difficult and came after much thought and consideration.

However, there are still a few Christmas events planned for this year that can be enjoyed while maintaining social distancing.

Parade cancellations

So far, Bulls Gap, Rogersville, Church Hill and Mount Carmel have all confirmed that their town’s annual Christmas parades have been cancelled.

However, Surgoinsville City Hall employees confirmed for the Review on Wednesday that the town’s parade is still scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 12 at 11 a.m.

The Rogersville/Hawkins County Chamber announced on Nov. 17 via press release that the Rogersville parade had been cancelled.

“After consulting with local health officials, it has become clear that holding the parade during the COVID-19 pandemic is not in the best interest of the health and safety of our community,” read the release. “Thousands of spectators, participants, along with many volunteers, join the Rogersville/Hawkins County Chamber Christmas Parade each year. Given the size of this parade and crowds that gather to enjoy it, there is not a practical way to ensure social distancing. The recent surge in COVID cases brought great concern for the safety of all involved. With the health of our community in mind, we made the difficult decision to cancel the parade this year.”

Unfortunately, the Rogersville Christmas Tree Lighting will also be canceled.

Next year’s Christmas parade and tree lighting in Rogersville is scheduled for December 4, 2021.

“During this holiday season with all the uncertainties please pray for our communities, the safety and health of our citizens, and the pandemic will soon be eradicated. To you, your family, and friends, please have a blessed holiday season,” read the release.

Church Hill Mayor Dennis Deal also announced at the town’s Nov. 17 Board of Mayor and Alderman meeting that the town’s parade would be cancelled due to the increase in COVID-19 cases across the region.

“I think this is in the best interest of the city to do that,” Deal said on Nov. 17 of the decision. “Because of the surge in the virus, we’re cancelling. There will be people disappointed—we’ve cancelled about everything we have this year.”

The town also traditionally holds an employee Christmas dinner inside the town’s Senior Citizens Center, but this has been cancelled as well.

Santa on the Stage

Though Mount Carmel’s annual parade has been cancelled, town officials are in the planning stages for an outdoor, drive-by event called “Santa on the Stage.”

The event would take place on Dec. 12 around 12 p.m. Santa would be seated on the outdoor stage on Main Street in Mount Carmel, and families would be able to drive by and wave to him.

The Mount Carmel BMA will discuss the event at their meeting on the evening of Nov. 19 and finalize plans. The town’s final plans for the event will be reported on the Review’s Facebook as well in next week’s Midweek edition.

Bulls Gap Christmas decorating contest

Bulls Gap will also host their annual Christmas decorating contest this year as a socially distant way to celebrate the holidays.

All Bulls Gap residents are encouraged to enter the contest and decorate their homes for Christmas. Contact City Hall for more information on registering for the event.

City Administrator Mike Solomon told the Review that the home judges are usually brought from other towns to ensure that they bring an unbiased perspective.

The homes will be judged both during the day and after dark from Friday, Dec. 18 through Sunday, Dec. 20, but the judges will not announce the specific times they plan to drive by each house.

Elf shop

The Rogersville Main Street Program is still planning to host its fourth annual Elf Shop at the Chamber of Commerce building, which is located at 110 East Kyle Street in Rogersville.

The event will take place on Dec. 5 from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Numerous gifts will be available for children to pick from to give as gifts to anyone special in their family. Each gift will cost between $1 to $5. ‘Elves’ will also be available at the event to wrap the child’s gift for free.

The event will take place outdoors at the Chamber of Commerce building. In the case of inclement weather, the event will be held indoors but will be set up in such a way that foot traffic moves only in one direction and participants can maintain social distancing.

Rogersville tour of homes

Rogersville’s annual Christmas tour of homes will be held both virtually and as a drive-by event this year.

Rogersville Heritage Association Director Melissa Nelson told the Review that the organization is currently looking for participants. Homes must be within Rogersville city limits, and classic/traditional Christmas décor is required.

To participate in the event, contact RHA at (423)-272-1961 or director@rogersvilleheritage.org.

Photos and addresses of each participating home will be posted on the RHA Facebook page, where viewers can cast their vote for their favorite home. People can also drive by the participating homes to see the outdoor décor in person. The event will feature no indoor tours this year.

An event winner will be announced on December 5.

A Dickens of a Christmas cancelled

The outdoor play that RHA had planned for Nov. 28 has also been cancelled.

“Out of an abundance of caution, Rogersville Heritage Association has made the decision to postpone A Dickens Christmas until further notice,” Nelson said in a Nov. 18 press release.

“We have made this decision to stay within accordance with state and national guidelines. We wish this were not the case, but we value our community and we will be looking for further opportunities,” Renee Trent, board member. “Being a nonprofit association, RHA depends on seasonal events such as A Dickens of a Christmas to endure. With heavy hearts we have decided this is the best course. We wish everyone a very blessed holiday season.”