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Holiday rings: City crews put up tree, Christmas decorations

NATCHEZ — The City of Natchez Christmas tree is going up at Main and Commerce streets, a sure sign that Thanksgiving and Christmas are just around the corner.

The tree and other decorations should be completed and in place by Thanksgiving just in time for the planned tree lighting celebration at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 28, the Saturday after Thanksgiving, and will remain up until Dec. 31, said Natchez Mayor Dan Gibson.

Also, the Natchez is planning to hold the city’s annual Christmas parade at 6 p.m. Dec. 5 following COVID-19 guidelines.

Work on putting up the city’s Christmas tree began earlier this week and is progressing, Gibson said. The tree should be fully up in the next few days.

“Crews are so busy with other projects, it will be a gradual addition of décor and by Thanksgiving it will be impressive,” Gibson said, adding the public works department is operating under a manpower shortage due in part to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Other Christmas decorating projects in the works include decorating Memorial Park on Main Street and the bluff along Broadway Street, which will feature the old International Paper Company’s Christmas displays and a new Kwanza display, Gibson said.

Meanwhile, Natchez Pubic Works crews are short staffed due to some vacancies in the department and a lack of inmate workers from area jails and prisons due to COVID-19 pandemic concerns.

“It takes a while,” Gibson said of the decorating projects. “They are still dealing with the aftermath of hurricanes and are short 10 to 12 workers because of the loss of prisoners and vacancies.”

Gibson said COVID-19 precautions will be encouraged during the 5:30 p.m. Nov. 28 Christmas tree lighting ceremony that will feature singing led by Tony Fields of Zion Chapel AME Church followed by the mayor’s remarks and the tree lighting.

The event will be streamed live via Facebook.

“We do welcome people to come in person as long as they wear face masks and distance,” Gibson said. “We are very aware of the governor’s order in place for outdoor gatherings and are encouraging a safe event. We will curtail the length of program.”

Guidelines for the 5:30 p.m. Dec. 5 parade include not allowing candy to be thrown from floats, no more than seven people being allowed on floats, and all float riders must wear face masks.

Floats can only play Christmas music and must be pulled by a pickup truck or utility tractor. No cars, horses or motorcycles are allowed. Proof of insurance is required along with the signed application and $20 registration fee.

Fees and applications must be submitted to the Natchez-Adams Chamber of Commerce, 211 Main St., Natchez, MS 39120 by Saturday, Nov. 28. For more details, call 601-445-4611.

Applications are available at the chamber office or on the City of Natchez’s Facebook page.

“With the year we have gone through, never before have we wanted to celebrate Christmas the way we do now,” Gibson said.

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