A number of Christmas events are being planned throughout Mingo County from Kermit in the north to Gilbert in the south and all points in between.
It is, however, in the center of the county where the activities will begin as Matewan is scheduled to have a Christmas tree lighting ceremony and fireworks show on Saturday, Nov. 28, beginning at 7 p.m., according to Matewan Town Recorder Crystal Moore, coordinator for the event. The event will take place at the Mine Wars Museum parking lot at McCoy Alley. Prior to the ceremony, an ornament hunt throughout town will be held for children to participate in (bring a bag and flashlight). The ornaments will then be used to decorate the town Christmas tree.
There will be prizes for the ornament hunt and door prizes for adults, Moore said. Thomas Jude will provide musical entertainment and hot chocolate will be available.
On Saturday, Dec. 12, the town will host its traditional Christmas parade beginning at 6 p.m. Line up for the parade will begin at 5 p.m. at the Matewan PK-8 School. There will be prizes for the best decorated ATV or golf cart and the best vehicle or float. Following the parade Santa will be at the town pavilion behind the Matewan Town Hall. Children can stand in front of Santa for pictures but will not be able to sit on his lap this year. A plexiglass divider will separate Santa and the children. Fruit and treat bags will be given out as supplies last.
Anyone wishing to be in the parade can contact Moore at, (304) 550-6651, or parade coordinator Jenna Chafin via Facebook.
“We just hope people come out for these events,” Moore said. “We are just trying to find safe ways to allow people to enjoy and celebrate Christmas.”
She said the town is adding the “CDC COVID clause” to all of its events: “Wear a mask and social distance your group.”
Moore said there will be an added feature this year with a lighted star being placed on the water tower which is located on the mountainside overlooking the town.
“We used to have the star every Christmas until a few years ago,” Moore said. “I can remember when I was four or five years old and seeing the star on the hill.”
She said members of Matewan’s garden club had asked to bring back the tradition.
The Tug Valley Area CVB will have activities on two consecutive Fridays for those looking for ways to celebrate the holidays.
On Saturday, Nov. 28, the CVB’s West End Drive-In will have a 6 p.m. showing of the popular family-oriented Christmas movie “Polar Express,” according to CVB Executive Director Wes Wilson. There are still spaces available and those wishing to attend may purchase tickets via a link on the group’s Facebook page or tickets can be purchased at the gate if spaces are available.
The following week, on Friday, Dec. 4, the CVB will also host the Williamson Christmas Kickoff beginning at 6 p.m. There will be live music, a candy cane scavenger hunt, a letter to Santa station and photo opportunities for children with famous characters. At 6:30 p.m., Mayor Charles Hatfield will “flip the switch” to light the city’s Christmas tree and turn on the downtown decorations.
“Christmas is always a special time of year,” Wilson said. “This year, even with the ongoing COVID pandemic, we are excited to bring that magical feeling to the Tug Valley.”
The AIM (Action in Mingo) Group, in conjunction with the Mingo County Family Resource Network, Williamson Parks and Recreation Board and the Tug Valley Chamber of Commerce, will also conduct a two-day Great White Way celebration in Williamson on the first weekend of December.
On Friday, Dec. 4, the traditional Festival of Trees will be opened in the former Daddy’s Girls Bakery on the corner of Second Avenue and Court Street at 5 p.m. Also, at 5 p.m., the Hot Chocolate Drive-Thru will take place at the Williamson Farmers Market parking lot. At 5:30 p.m., there will be a Christmas hayride through downtown. Members of the AIM Group will judge Christmas tree decorating contest.
Events for the next day, Saturday, Dec. 5, are slated to begin at 8 a.m. with the United Methodist Church’s Men’s Pancake Breakfast. Vendors will setup at 10 a.m. in the Williamson Health and Wellness Center parking lots and the displays for unique dolls, quilts and trains will be in front of the Cinderella Building at 10:30. Live entertainment will be at 11 a.m. at the courthouse. Other events include the ornament decorating workshops (11 a.m.; Cinderella Building), spelling bee competitions (noon; courthouse), gingerbread house workshop (1 p.m.; United Methodist Church), holiday bake-off (drop off entries at 2 p.m.; Cinderella Building), the Reindeer Run (3 p.m.; Coal House) and ugly Christmas sweater contest (4 p.m.; courthouse).
The Annual Great White Way Christmas Parade -- the premiere activity of the celebration – will begin at 5 p.m. following the traditional route looping around the downtown area via Second and Third avenues. Cash prize for best float. Anyone wishing to be part of the parade can contact AIM President Jada Hunter at (304) 235-0909.
“We are excited about this year’s Great White Way,” Hunter said. “We have lots of volunteers and new AIM members. The AIM Group is partnering with the Chamber, the Mingo Family Resource Network and the Williamson Parks and Recreation Board to have a great event. We want this to be a COVID safe event so everyone is requested to wear a mask or face covering and families or groups travelling together are asked to social distance from other groups.”
Also, on Saturday, Dec. 5, the Town of Gilbert will join with the Larry Joe Harless Community Center for a live nativity and Santa beginning at 2 p.m. A drive-in showing of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” will start at 6 p.m. with “A Charlie Brown Christmas” following at 7 p.m.
“We had planned our traditional Christmas parade then it turned into a reverse parade but we didn’t get the response we needed for that. So, we decided to join with the Community Center,” said Pam Surber, who coordinates the parade for the town. “We will still have a celebration of Jesus’ birth. COVID can’t take that away from us.”
The Town of Delbarton will host a Drive-Thru Santa Experience at the Delbarton Town Hall beginning at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 12. Santa will be on hand to accept letters from children. Treat bags will be given to children attending.
The Town of Kermit will host the Christmas in Kermit Yard Decorating Contest which will be judged on Sunday, Dec. 20, and Monday, Dec. 21. Prizes will be awarded for most creative, Santa’s pick and the Griswold Award. The contest is limited to residences within the city limits.
Also, Mayor Charles Sparks said tentative plans are underway for a parade and Santa Drive-Thru. Details will be announced later if the events come to fruition.