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Cities adapt to COVID to celebrate Christmas
holidays on the hill

COVID-19 won’t cancel Christmas in Bryan County. It will, however, change the way the county’s two municipalities celebrate the holiday, as both Pembroke and Richmond Hill have been forced to adapt to the pandemic.

Welcome to the 2020 holiday season, which starts Friday on both ends of the country.

In Pembroke, Owens Supply, Higgins Place, Carla’s Furniture, Storehouse Salvage, Pembroke Pharmacy and City Hall will take your letters to Santa beginning Friday through Dec. 16, according to Downtown Development Authority Director Renee Hernandez.

Some of those letters will be read by Santa on Dec. 22 on the DDA’s Facebook page during a live session with Mr. and Mrs. Claus.

“Though the pandemic has caused the Downtown Development Authority to cancel our annual Christmas festival, we are doing what we can to keep the magic of Christmas alive in Pembroke,” Hernandez said.

Pembroke will also hold its annual tree lighting ceremony on Dec. 5. Crowd size will be limited and those who come will have to stay in their vehicles, but it’ll be shown on Facebook live, according to Hernandez.

Finally, the city will be holding a Merry Christmas Movie Night at 6 p.m. Dec. 12 at the Mike Foxworth Rec Center. The cost will be $10 per vehicle.

“Food will be available on site, and everyone is encouraged to come in their PJs to make the event extra fun and cozy,” Hernandez said. “COVID has taken much from us this year, but it doesn’t have to take our Christmas spirit. There are always ways to find the magic and we plan to do just that in Downtown Pembroke.”

HOLIDAYS ON THE HILL: Bustling Richmond Hill starts its 2020 Christmas at J.F. Gregory Park on Friday with a drive-through toy drive from 3 to 6 p.m.

Hosted by the Richmond Hill Fire Department and Downtown Development Association, the event is a replacement for RHFD’s annual Spring Fling. Those who donate a gift Friday will get a $25 gift card to a local restaurant from the DDA, according to Richmond Hill City Clerk Dawnne Greene.

“With how difficult 2020 has been for all of us, holiday traditions become even more important,” Greene said. “Connecting with friends and neighbors and giving back to those less fortunate are all part of those traditions and the spirit of the holidays.

Council and staff made the commitment to find ways to still bring holiday magic to our community despite the need to cancel some of our holiday traditions.”

In addition to the toy drive, the city will host a car parade from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Dec. 5, as well as “a virtual Breakfast with Santa and a holiday drive-in movie. J.F. Gregory Park will also be lit up with twinkling lights this year – more lights than ever – and the holiday home decorating contest will be held too.

We hope everyone from one to 92 will embrace this year’s holiday events and participate in them.”

Kids in South Bryan can drop letters to Santa off at Richmond Hill City Hall, and they’ll be read Sunday, Dec. 6 on the city’s Facebook page by, you guessed it, Santa. And, Richmond Hill is also showing a drive-in movie with a Christmas theme. They’ll be airing Elf at J.F. Gregory Park beginning at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 11. It’s a free event, but an e-ticket will be required.

More information should be available on the city’s Facebook page.

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