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Different holiday season

It seems that Thanksgiving is sneaking up on us, and that means Christmas will not be that far behind.

We know that this year’s holiday season is going to have a very different feel. There will be fewer opportunities to enjoy events that are a traditional part of this time of year.

The governors in the Tri-State Area already are advising against large gatherings and asking that travel be limited as COVID-19 numbers continue to increase. That should come as no surprise, as we were warned many months ago to expect that result as we headed into late fall and winter.

Many of those events we look forward to already have been canceled. There will be no Christmas parade in Weirton or Wintersville this year, for example, and the Tuesday before Thanksgiving will be dark as Steubenville Lights Up the Night has become another coronavirus casualty.

Organizers of other events, however, are trying to find a way to hold scaled-down versions while asking patrons to follow strict protocols involving social distancing and use lots of hand sanitizer.

There was no reason, for example, to cancel Wheeling’s Festival of Lights.

Those who enjoy the annual event don’t have to leave their cars — they can enjoy a leisurely drive through Oglebay Park and marvel at the displays.

Thanks to some modifications, those who wait annually to experience the magic of Steubenville’s Nutcracker Village will have the opportunity to enjoy the life-size displays from their cars. More of the nutcrackers will be displayed along Market and Fourth streets this year. That also will allow more opportunity for social distancing for those who choose to make the walk through downtown and for those who want to see the smaller number of nutcrackers that will be in their traditional location at Historic Fort Steuben Park.

Steubenville’s Christmas tree has been put in place at the park, and organizers have made plans for the Advent Village, which runs at the park on weekends in conjunction with the nutcrackers. The market will be open as well, though its format will look a little different. Expect to see the nutcrackers in place by Nov. 24. The Advent Village will be open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from Nov. 27 though Dec. 27.

Renaissance Weirton, meanwhile, has unveiled the fourth in its series of Success in Unity Christmas ornaments.

This year’s ornament pays tribute to the Italian heritage shared by many residents of the Tri-State Area. It will join the other ornaments in the series that was started in 2017 as part of the celebration of Weirton’s 70th anniversary. Past ornaments have offered tributes to the region’s Scottish and Greek heritage.

While this year’s Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays certainly will look different, we each have the opportunity to make sure their spirit shines brightly in each of us.

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If you missed the Veterans Day section that ran inside of our Wednesday edition, you owe it to yourself to read the stories that were included. Staff writer Andrew Grimm offers a profile of David Hillyard, who has been inducted into the Ohio Military Hall of Fame, and details the life-changing experience the Rev. Michael Bongart had after being severely wounded in Vietnam. You’ll have the chance to learn about the Toronto banner project which, staff writer Warren Scott writes, honors veterans. The family of George Dennis McClelland, meanwhile, shares with Community Editor Janice Kiaski their memories of the late Marine who died in Vietnam and has been memorialized on a stretch of highway that runs between Jefferson County Road 56 and Township Road 249. Kiaski also writes about an autograph book that contains brief messages members of the community shared with the late John Allensworth during World War II.

While each of the articles tells a different story, they all allow us to remember the sacrifices and mourn the losses while offering reminders to thank every veteran for his or her service.

(Gallabrese, a resident of Steubenville, is executive editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times.)

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