MCADENVILLE, N.C. — McAdenville's famous "Christmas Town U.S.A" will look a bit different this year as the COVID-19 pandemic forced organizers to make changes to the annual Christmas lights display.
The event, which brings 600,000 to McAdenville's Main Street, will not have as many displays as previous years in order to encourage public health, according to organizers.
Christy Gliddon, the Executive Vice President for Human Resources of Pharr, which partnered with the town on the event, said there will be no large lights on the lake nor photo ops with Santa near a lit-up sleigh as those are places where people often stand close together in large groups.
She said the town placed signs encouraging social distancing and wearing face masks.
"So far, people have been very compliant and friendly and cordial," Gliddon said. "The displays are beautiful, and hopefully people will still enjoy their visit to 'Christmas Town.'"
Mona's Boutique and Gifts is one of the Main Street stores that'll be open for customers.
The store will have an employee at the entrance, who will make sure only 20 people are inside at one time.
The store will also require everyone to wear a mask and stand on social distance stickers as they wait to check out.
Ginny Hoffman, a store employee, said so far, they haven't had as many visitors as they normally do, but it hasn't dampened the Christmas spirit.
"Which is awesome to see," Hoffman said. "Even though we can't see everybody's faces, you can definitely feel the energy is still there."
Tony Coppola owns Terra Mia Ristorante, and December is an important month for his restaurant because of all the people who walk around.
Besides face masks and social distancing, Coppola checks each customer's temperature before they sit down to eat.
"Tourists [are] still around, thank God," Coppola said. "We see the same amount of people, but just different ways. Compared [to] last year, it was more walking. This year, it's more parking, coming and going, but everything's going well, thank God."
Coppola and his fellow McAdenville business owners rely heavily on the annual Christmas Lights season to bring in new customers from all over the region.
JP Harrell and his girlfriend drove into town from Farmville in Eastern North Carolina.
"Most of the things are still shut down as far as like Christmas lights, and everything is drives through now," Harrell said. "Here, from what it looks like, you can get out, walk around a little bit."
Members of Nick Bontkowski's family are also visiting McAdenville for the first time.
"Trying to support small businesses and locally owned businesses is important to us," Bontkowski said. "Also being able to be outside, just enjoying all the lights and the atmosphere. It's a great time."