Blue Ridge, Ga. – In an unanimous vote the Blue Ridge City Council decided that any special events within the city limits will be canceled until further notice. This includes the cancelation of Blue Ridge’s Halloween SafeZone and Light Up Blue Ridge.
Discussion of canceling future events for the remainder of the year had previously taken place among council but no official vote had been made on the matter.
“We need to make it official,” Council member Rhonda Haight spoke, referencing that since their previous discussion special events had been permitted to take place: “I felt like we should have voted last time.”
Mayor Donna Whitener expressed that she didn’t fully agree with the idea of canceling all events with no exceptions and pointed out that the recent prayer vigil held for Blue Ridge Chief of Police Johnny Scearce would technically fall under the special event category.
Haight made the motion of “no more events allowed until further notice”, which carried without opposition.
Although the Halloween SafeZone has been canceled an alternative has been set up according to Cesar Martinez, President of the Blue Ridge Business Association (BRBA).
“We get 5,000 or 6,000 people downtown and we just can’t do it this year,” Martinez said and noted that state guidelines would just not make it feasible for the city to accommodate.
The BRBA will be partnering with Blue Ridge United Methodist Church to offer a drive thru option for families to enjoy. Booths will be set up along this route, where participants can hand out candy.
Other locations that are offering Halloween festivities include Dairy Queen, Home Depot, and Kevin Panter Insurance Agency.
Light Up Blue Ridge will also not take place in an official manner. Festivities of the weekend that draw a large crowd in close proximity have been called off. This includes the annual parade and the lighting of the tree.
Even with these changes, Blue Ridge plans to make the city Christmas ready for those visiting the weekend following Thanksgiving.
The tree will be lit in the park but without the lighting ceremony and Santa can still be found at the park’s gazebo but with safety precautions made due to the ongoing Covid-19 risk.
“We are suggesting that the city close East Main Street for the two days after Thanksgiving,” Martinez recommended to the council stating that this would give more room for the large crowds to social distance that weekend.
No official plans were made on how to handle the influx of visitors for the weekend following Thanksgiving, but discussions are expected to continue in future meetings.