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Ho, Ho, Ho away we go… 2020 Downtown Christmas Open House ushers in new Christmas season

BY IVAN SANDERS
STAR STAFF
ivan.sanders@elizabethton.com
There is nothing to make one forget about how tough the year 2020 has been than to start looking ahead to the Christmas holiday.

Even though there is another big holiday in Thanksgiving around the corner, once Halloween has officially passed many Americans shift their focus to Christmas as television begins loading its programming with Christmas movies and Black Friday specials are extended way before reaching that first big shopping day of the year as merchants try to get ahead of the curve especially during COVID.

On Sunday in downtown Elizabethton, the merchants welcomed a new Christmas season by hosting an Open House featuring refreshments, door prizes, Christmas sales, and music on a day that couldn’t have been more perfect with temperatures in the mid-70s and a beautiful day to greet shoppers.

More importantly, it gave local merchants the opportunity to try and at least get a leg up on what has been a tough year financially as COVID had many businesses shut down and has kept people away from areas where large groups of people normally assemble.

Rita Russell with Simple Blessings was one of those merchants who were very happy to open her doors on a Sunday to those who came into town for the event.

“We have tried to maintain the number of people who have come in to ensure social distancing but it has been steady pretty much all day,” said Russell. “Right now we are where we were last year for our sales today which is great.”

Russell and her staff had Santa set up in the front glass display of the store to provide an opportunity for children to share what they wanted for Christmas in a non-traditional way.

Instead of sitting on Santa’s lap, Santa communicated with the children via a walkie talkie as he just couldn’t afford to get sick with Christmas right around the corner and knowing Mrs. Claus wouldn’t be very happy if he came back to the North Pole with COVID.

Each store in the downtown appeared to be having good foot traffic for the Open House which began at 1 pm and concluded at 5 pm as families took advantage of the afternoon to spend time together getting some ideas for Christmas gifts for family.

One shopper was overheard saying that she had decided to buy all of her gifts locally this year to support the businesses in and around Carter County.

Cash registers seemed to be ringing up and down the street throughout the afternoon with several taking time to enjoy some sweet treats like hot chocolate, cider, cookies, and an always-favorite – ice cream.

For the merchants, they hope that Sunday will be a sign of things to come for the upcoming holiday as local residents will choose to purchase their Christmas gifts with their hometown merchants to help offset some of the loss they have experienced throughout the current year with the pandemic.