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.
BLAIRSVILLE, Ga – As families and businesses navigate Halloween during a pandemic, Union County is preparing a socially distanced October 31 for the local children.
Halloween at the Market will transform the farmer’s market into trick-or-treat central from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. The event is replacing Halloween on the Square in order to keep everyone safe and limit the potential spreading of COVID-19.
Local businesses and organizations that want to participate are encouraged to sign up on the Downtown Blairsville website. It’s free to contribute to Halloween at the Market.
The Chamber of Commerce has announced theatrical performances, drive in movie, Trunk or Treat, free candy, and games as part of the drive-thru event.
More details are expected to be announced as the event approaches.
First Baptist Church has also announced a drive-thru Fall Festival on October 31 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Currently, the CDC cites that many traditional Halloween activities are high risk for spreading the virus and encourages safer alternatives. Low risk activities include pumpkin carving outside with neighbors, home decorating, Halloween ISpy, virtual costume contest, scavenger trick-or-treat inside the home, and movie night with family members.
Moderate risk activities are one-way trick-or-treating with individually wrapped bags at the end of the driveway, a small, socially distanced, open-air costume parade, an outdoor Halloween party with cloth masks and physical distance, an open-air, outdoor haunted attraction, visiting pumpkin patches with hand sanitizer and distancing, and Halloween movie night with friends spread six feet apart.
Also, costume masks aren’t substitutes for cloth masks. The CDC warns against costume masks unless “it is made of two or more layers of breathable fabric that covers the mouth and nose and doesn’t leave gaps around the face.” A costume mask shouldn’t be worn over a cloth mask because it can result in breathing difficulty.