Another local annual event for Raeford and Hoke County has been canceled for this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
What would have been the fifth annual Raeford-Hoke County Hometown Christmas is canceled for 2020. The Raeford-Hoke County Chamber of Commerce sponsors the event.
Chamber Executive Director Liz McNeill confirmed this week the group’s Board of Directors decided not to go forward with holding Hometown Christmas this year because of the coronavirus. The Chamber issued a statement this week about the cancellation.
“We know, like many of you, that Hometown Christmas is a favorite event to kick off the holiday season. During this time of uncertainty, the Chamber Board of Directors has decided that it is in the best interest of the community to postpone Hometown Christmas until 2021. This decision was not an easy one to make, but the Chamber believes that the safety and well-being of everyone who would have attended is far more important,” the statement said. “We look forward to working with all of you once again in 2021. Thank you for your understanding and continued support during these unique times.”
Hometown Christmas started in 2015 as a way to help families have fun, celebrate the season and bring more life to downtown Raeford and local businesses. The event, typically held in December or late November, features hayrides, carols from children’s school choruses, the lighting of the city Christmas tree and photos with Santa. Businesses downtown stay open late to serve customers, and often give away freebies. The event has drawn crowds of thousands to Main Street in Raeford each year.
Hometown Christmas was just the latest local celebration canceled this year due to the pandemic. The North Carolina Fall Festival, previously known as the Turkey Festival, also won’t be held this year. The first in a series of downtown First Fridays that were set to launch this year thanks to the newly-formed Downtown Raeford Business Association, or DRBA, was likewise put on hold. Hoke Fest, held each year in April, was also canceled for 2020.