While Christmas in 2020 might look different, it’s not completely canceled, according to community leaders.
After Come Home to a Franklin County Christmas and the Franklin County Christmas Parade were canceled, organizers, including Beth Simms, Rocky Mount’s cultural and economic development director, and Donna Wray, president of the Community Partnership, had been exploring ways to spread holiday cheer.
Starting Dec. 4, Festive Fridays will be held over three consecutive Fridays, from 3 to 8 p.m., to get folks in the holiday spirit and encourage local shopping.
“We encourage everyone to come out,” Wray said. “We just don’t want them to come out in huge numbers all at once.”
Simms estimated that about 80% of businesses, both in uptown and downtown, have signed on to participate. “Every business will kind of be doing their own thing,” she said.
In addition, Sycamore Springs Berry Farm will be at the Rocky Mount Farmers’ Market selling trees and wreaths, Simms said.
Businesses will be encouraged to decorate their storefront windows and participate in the white light campaign spearheaded by Community Partnership.
Each week will feature a different theme. For example, those who visit that first Friday are encouraged to wear flannel clothing, Simms said. The second week will encourage wearing ugly Christmas sweaters, and on the third Friday, participants can dress as their favorite Christmas character.
Because no holiday event would be complete without Santa Claus, Simms said he will be available — albeit in a creative, socially distant way — to wave at children who stop by the clock tower near the farmers’ market.
“He’s going to look like he’s coming out of a chimney,” Wray added.
A mailbox also will be set up nearby for children to leave their letters for Santa to read.
Various other scenes will be set up around town as well, Simms said, including a giant Christmas card, and holiday music will be piped through the town’s speaker system.
While thousands typically attend Come Home to a Franklin County Christmas, Festive Fridays was created to encourage walking through downtown Rocky Mount rather than to congregate in one location.
“There’s lots of free parking,” Simms said. “The intent is for people to stroll around downtown and not cluster in any one place.”
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