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Holiday events on deck in Washington

A year filled with twists and turns is set to end with rare tastes of normalcy for Beaufort County residents.

The Washington Harbor District Alliance, in partnership with the City of Washington, will host its annual Light Up the City event on Tuesday evening in the downtown area. With social distancing guidelines in effect, attendees will be able to line up anywhere along Main Street to see the the city’s Christmas lights turn on at approximately 5:30 p.m. The event will then shift down to the waterfront and the Harbor Walk of Lights.

“We’re excited about the holiday season approaching with the completion of the streetscape project,” Washington City Manager Jonathan Russell said. “There are continued concerns with the COVID-19 virus, and there are certain precautions that need to be taken for that. We encourage people to get out in a safe manner.

“There’s so much uncertainty that we have faced this year, so some type of normalcy with the Light Up the City event will be appreciated.”

Tuesday will also mark the official reopening of Main Street, which is in the final stages of a $3.4 million renovation project. Mayor Donald Sadler will speak about that project before the Christmas lights are turned on.

Downtown shops will be open on Tuesday night for people to browse throughout the evening. WHDA Director Meg Howdy said those who plan on attending Tuesday’s festivities are encouraged to wear masks, and she noted that Main Street’s newly-widened sidewalks should make it easier for shoppers to practice social distancing.

At the Harbor Walk of Lights, boats lined with Christmas decorations will be on display along the Washington waterfront, and everyone will be able to vote for their favorite entry.

Elsewhere in the downtown area, Santa Claus will be roving in and around the Harbor District Market. Howdy said families can take pictures with Santa if they want to — he will be wearing a mask — and there will also be a place in the market for children to drop off letters for Santa.

Howdy said Tuesday’s are “really needed” for local businesses and the community amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This year has been really hard for our business owners,” she said. “We’ll be able to focus on what’s important — friends, family and communities.”

Several other local holiday events are on the calendar as well. On Dec. 5, the Harbor District Market will take on a Christmas theme, complete with new vendors and crafts for children.

Dec. 10 will feature a downtown Christmas Crawl event during which shops will be open for holiday shopping.

Washington Kiwanis Club will hold its Christmas parade on Dec. 13 from 3 to 5 p.m. This year, the floats in the parade will stay in place and people will be able to walk around and view them.