CABARRUS COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) - An unprecedented holiday calls for an unprecedented celebration. To that end, the cities of Concord, Harrisburg, Kannapolis, Midland, Mt. Pleasant and Cabarrus County have teamed to produce the Cabarrus Virtual Holiday Celebration.
The one-hour special event includes virtual tree lighting ceremonies for the cities of Concord, Harrisburg and Kannapolis; musical performances; and a special visitor from the North Pole—Santa Claus.
Gather your family and pour a cup of hot cocoa to enjoy a reading of the classic tale, " ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas,” by Clement Moore, featuring Mayors Bill Dusch of Concord, Darrell Hinnant of Kannapolis, John Crump of Midland, Del Eudy of Mt. Pleasant, Steve Sciascia of Harrisburg and Cabarrus County Board of Commissioners Chair Steve Morris.
Officials hope the event is a way for locals to connect with friends and family who have moved from the area, including Cabarrus residents stationed across the country and deployed around the world.
“The fact that we have to take it virtual opens us up to a whole new opportunity to unite our community in a way we hadn’t considered prior to the pandemic,” said Cabarrus County Manager Mike Downs. “It means that anyone who’s ever lived here can participate. As they watch the hometown holiday celebration, they’ll see familiar sights and have familiar experiences. We’ll form new memories at a time when we need it most.”
Downs and his family hosted three different exchange students between 2003 and 2012, and he’s invited each of them—Ferit Donmezer in Germany, Emma Sandin in Sweden and Maria Schosler Zink in Denmark—to the virtual event.
“They’re now grown and some have their own families, but Cabarrus County will always be a part of their lives,” Downs said. “They can participate and share in the special ways we honor family, faith and tradition.”
The City of Concord has reached out to its sister cities—Killarney, Ireland and Freeport, Bahamas—to share the invitation and extend holiday cheer.
For more information on this and other local holiday events, visit the Cabarrus Virtual Holiday Celebration Facebook page @CabarrusVirtualHoliday.
Supporting a healthy and safe holiday season
Earlier this week, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services issued its first COVID-19 County Alert System report, which ranked Cabarrus as having “substantial community spread.”
The rankings are determined using a combination of case rate, percentage of positive tests and hospital impact within the county.
The Virtual Holiday Celebration is one way local leaders are managing the balance between holiday tradition and public health concerns.
Local government agencies have modified tree lightings, visits with Santa Claus and other special holiday activities to meet state and federal recommendations.
Still, officials realize that individuals will ultimately need to make their own decisions about private holiday gatherings.
No matter how many people gather, if families spend 15 minutes or more together over a 24-hour period—masks on or off—they are at greater risk of transmission. Symptoms may appear anytime up to 14 days after the event.
“Making the decision to stay home or stay six feet apart is a difficult one to make, but it could set the course for your entire holiday season,” said Cabarrus Health Alliance Director Dr. Bonnie Coyle. “One sick employee could have a major impact on local businesses—not so much over the holiday weekend, but in the days and weeks that follow.”
The Cabarrus Health Alliance issued these tips for residents to consider:
1. A negative test is not a free pass. A COVID-19 test does not eliminate risk; it measures your status at a point in time. Continue to practice your 3 W’s—especially when around those outside of your immediate household or bubble.
2. If you test positive (or have been exposed to someone who is positive) stay home and follow your quarantine directions. If you have reason to test, quarantine until you receive your results.
3. Smaller is better, but not a guarantee.
It is discouraged to have Thanksgiving with family or friends who are not part of your immediate household or bubble. The size of a gathering has no impact on transmission; however, it can limit the number of people affected. If you attend a gathering, let other guests know the level of interaction with which you’re most comfortable.