In these days when we all need to be careful to respect the health of our family members and neighbors by practicing social distancing, wearing masks, and washing our hands frequently, we can still have some of the joys of the Christmas season – just in a different way. The Town of Alderson, Alderson Main Street, Alderson Volunteer Fire Department, and other organizations have come together to insure children and adults can still experience the joys of the season and support local businesses.
Shopping local will be more important than ever this season as local businesses struggle to survive an extremely difficult year. Shoppers look forward to walking along streets and seeing lovely shop windows with enticing displays; stopping inside and being greeted by a friendly face; and making a special purchase. If shoppers want that experience when it is once again safe to enjoy, they must support local shops now or those shops will not be around later.
For example, the Alderson Artisans Gallery has moved to on line sales on their web site at www.aldersongallery.com. However, the store will be open for shoppers on Friday, Nov. 27 and Saturday, Nov. 28, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Masks will be required and the number of customers at one time will be limited.) The Gallery is offering a 10% discount on all purchases those two days, in store or online. The Gallery showcases West Virginia’s one-of-a-kind creations in jewelry, stained glass, photography, painting, textiles, ornaments, note cards, wood craft, and more. Artisan Gallery gift cards are also available online and in the store. If someone does not know just what to get for a gift, a gift card from the Gallery is the answer. The recipient can shop from anywhere and the gift will be shipped.
The small shop “Always Vintage” owned by Lisa Davis is also open for the season on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Her always changing inventory is likely to have something nostalgic for anyone.
Individual families and businesses can make sure the town is ready for the season by decorating and entering the Christmas Decorating Contest; no registration needed. To be judged, Christmas decorations and lights must be up by Tuesday, Dec. 1. Judging will take place on Tuesday, Dec. 1 and Wednesday Dec. 2, from 5:30 to 8 p.m. This annual contest is sponsored by Alderson Main Street.
Winners (both first-place and honorable mention) in eight different categories will receive certificates, and first-place winners will have a yard sign placed to celebrate their display. Winners will be announced and yard signs placed on Friday Dec. 4.
Categories include Best Nativity; Old Fashioned Christmas; Children’s Fantasy; Spirit of Christmas; Gem of the Hills; Most Festive Doorway and Porch; and large and small business. Participants do not need to identify their category; it will be determined by the judges.
Another tradition which will not change is the release of the annual volume of History Highlights and Tantalizing Tidbits about Alderson. Written by Belinda Anderson, Volume VII will soon be available at various locations including online through the Alderson Artisans Gallery.
As always, the Christmas Season will officially open in Alderson when the Queen of Lights turns on the town’s Christmas Tree, the star that glows above the town, and the lights on the Alderson Memorial Bridge at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 4. Chosen from among Alderson’s 5th grade elementary students, the Queen will reign from the back of a car and lead a “reverse parade” of vehicles full of spectators from the Alderson Depot to the Old Greenbrier Baptist Church turning on the lights as she goes.
Because this is a “reverse parade” with the parade entries standing still and the spectators moving past in their vehicles, entries/floats must register with City Hall by Wednesday, Dec. 2 at 5:30 p.m. by calling 304-445-2916. (City Hall hours are Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.) No loose candy or any other item may be thrown from the floats. Items to be given away must be bagged and delivered to the spectator cars by masked and gloved “elves.” Santa Claus will be on his usual perch atop the Alderson Volunteer Fire Department’s truck near the end of the stationary parade. Elves, gloved and masked, will be available to receive letters for Santa from the passing vehicles and will deliver them to him.
The Old Greenbrier Baptist Church will present a live Nativity on their lawn near the end of the parade.
Spectators, in their vehicles will line up behind the Queen of Lights on the Monroe County side of Alderson on Railroad Avenue. They will be treated to a complimentary trip across the Alderson Memorial Bridge under the beautiful Christmas lights. (This is the only time this season that the bridge will be open for a drive under the lights.) The spectator cars will then proceed up North Monroe Street on the right hand side and must keep moving. The parade entries will be stationary on the left hand (west) side. Traffic from the junction of North Monroe Street and Riverview Avenue will be one way going north from 5:30 p.m. until the last spectator cars have passed by.
Mayor Travis Copenhaver said, “We know it is important for the mental health of our kids and adults to create some semblance of normalcy. We think this modified version of our usual Christmas activities will create a lot of joy in a safe way.”
The days after the excitement of the “reverse parade” has lessened will be a great time for small family groups to explore Santaland at Alumni Park. This smaller, modified version as well as the lights on the bridge will still be worth a walk-through on a crisp winter evening.
For the people who will miss Alderson Main Street’s Christmas Tea, the Model Train Show at the Depot, and much more, AMS President Judy Lohmeyer said, “Please follow the guidelines and take care of yourselves and your neighbors, and we will plan to be back in a bigger and better way in 2021!”