Holiday light shows emerge as parades are canceled throughout the Greenbrier Valley

By Bobby Bordelon

Parades are a common staple of the holiday season each each all over the country and throughout the Greenbrier Valley. However, this year, COVID-19 has led to the cancellation of many of these parades. Despite this, the pandemic has also led to the emergence of two new events – Christmas at the Fair and Alderson’s first Reverse Parade.

Among the canceled parades are the annual Shanghai Parade in Lewisburg, the Christmas Parade in Ronceverte, the Union 2020 Christmas Parade,

“We have gotten news from the Shanghai Committee that they have decided to cancel the parade. It is heartbreaking, to say the least, that we won’t have a Shanghai Parade, but I don’t know, maybe we will have it later on, we’ll see as this goes on,” said Lewisburg Mayor Beverly White.

“We know this is a great disappointment for our community citizens and especially our children,” announced Ronceverte leadership over social media. “We also know that it is a sad day for the Ronceverte Volunteer Fire Department members who always work hard and do a wonderful job of organizing and running the parade. No one wants to take a chance for a community spread of COVID-19 that might cause the loss of even one member of our community. We want everyone to be able to enjoy the Christmas Parades in the future.”

The annual Rainelle Christmas Parade is currently scheduled to take place Saturday, December 12, with line-up at 5 p.m. in Industrial Park. The route goes from Route 20 to Route 60, following Main Street to 11th Street. Awards will follow at the Rainelle Armory parking lot.

However, despite the cancellations, two new events full of holiday cheer are moving forward – a festive light display offered by the State Fair of West Virginia and the Reverse Christmas Parade in downtown Alderson on Friday, December 4.

The State Fair of West Virginia is looking to bring some of the lights that the Greenbrier Valley will be missing this year – Christmas at the Fair is a large, drive-thru light show on the fairgrounds with its own dedicated soundtrack.

“It’s the first event that the State Fair has been able to host this year. We were sitting in a staff meeting, brainstorming some ideas we had, and one of our board members really liked that idea and pushed us to do it. … This is something we could do safely. It’s an event that the community can come out and enjoy, get some holiday spirits without worrying about health scares.”

Beginning at the Fair Street Gate or Route 219 North entrances to the fairgrounds, the display follows Blue Ribbon Drive, with synchronized lights flashing in time with the music playing on 106.9.

“We started from scratch with the lights that we had,” Collins said. “We’d never done anything like this before. The main reason is its been a tough year on everybody and we wanted to provide something for people to enjoy … and it’s something we hope to grow for the future, be bigger and better for next year.”

Collins thanked the community for the support they’ve received in the last year and noted staff are preparing for the 2021 State Fair of West Virginia, hopeful that a vaccine and health measures will make the event possible.

“We reached out to sponsors and they’ve really stepped up to help make this display possible,” Collins said. “Miller’s Nightmare Haunted Farm didn’t get to have their haunted corn maze or experience this year, so Miller came to help us out and it certainly wouldn’t have happened without him.”

The lights will be available by monetary donation, from 6 to 9 p.m. from Thursdays to Sundays.

After the announcement of the Alderson Reverse Parade last week, a number of individuals looked for further clarification about how the event would run. In a video posted to the Town of Alderson Facebook page, Mayor Travis Copenhaver explained that the parade line up would be parked along the town streets, with citizens driving through, rather than the parade driving through.

“Everybody is trying to figure out exactly what a reverse parade is,” explained Mayor Travis Copenhaver in a social media video. “This Friday, staring at 5:30, we’ll be lining up on North Monroe Street, [going north] on the west side of the street. The reverse parade is the best we can do for the times that we’re in with COVID. Instead of canceling it completely, we decided that this would be the best option for us for some sense of normalcy. … We won’t have the bands, we won’t have a moving parade. The parade theory is the vehicles, any of the floats, will sit still and cars will drive.”

Anyone wishing to be in the parade line up should contact town hall at 304-445-2916 this week.

Those driving through the parade should line up behind the Queen of Lights on the Monroe County side on Railroad Avenue. The reverse parade will then take them across the Alderson Memorial Bridge up North Monroe Street, to its junction with Riverview Avenue.

“You can go through this parade as many times as you want,” Copenhaver said. “If your kids enjoyed coming across through the lights, you can go and circle around to the Monroe Side and come back around through the line up. There is no issue with the cars repeating to go. It’s not costing to drive under the lights this year, this is the only time it’s open.”

The full video can be found on the Town of Alderson Facebook page, and the guidelines for the full reverse parade can be found in last weeks edition of the Mountain Messenger or online.

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