BY AMY HILL
There is no better way to celebrate the holidays in Clemmons than visiting local businesses and boutiques, seeing beautiful décor and dining out at the wide range of restaurants the Village of Clemmons has to offer. Clemmons Wonderland, a tradition notorious for hosting the Festival of Lights, is named a Top 20 Event in the Southeast. Although social distancing and new statewide mandates posed many challenges in the year 2020, the Village of Clemmons wanted to ensure that the COVID-19 Grinch didn’t steal Christmas for residents and visitors in the area. In the eyes of Shannon Ford, the marketing and communications director for the Village of Clemmons, Clemmons Wonderland was created to do anything possible to help local businesses during the holiday season.
As small businesses struggle with a multitude of new challenges that the pandemic has presented, Clemmons Wonderland was a great opportunity for those businesses to make up for lost time and even encouraged visitors from out of town to shop and dine. Retailers and restaurants began signing up online to offer promotions throughout the holiday season in the beginning of November, which was earlier than in years past. Additionally, local businesses located within the Village of Clemmons decked their halls by participating in the First Annual Light up the Village Contest. Participants such as Abbott’s Frozen Custard, English’s Bridal and Formal Wear, Express Oil and Tire Engineers, First Horizon Bank, Great Clips and Ketchie Creek Bakery and Cafe submitted photos of their storefront decorations online at clemmons.org for viewers to vote on their favorite festive display. Nina Woosley Beck, the owner of English’s Bridal and Formal Wear, was elated to participate in the contest. “We really had a great time decorating for the contest,” says Nina. “I had just given birth to my daughter in mid-November. This was something that my sisters, my mom and I could come together and work on as a family, which made it twice as special.”
How did these businesses determine which direction to spin their décor? The answer was simple for Alyssia Love of Great Clips. Alyssa explains, “I knew that our display should be haircut-related because we are a salon, and who better to get a haircut than Santa? A good friend of mine, Heather Romano McVane did the painting for us, and we couldn’t have been happier with how it turned out. She definitely captured the ‘jolly’ on Santa’s face.” For Alyssia, the best aspect of the contest was the response the business received from customers who viewed their holiday display in person. She states, “Getting to share a little bit of joy with everyone in a year that has been so crazy has been great.”
With the pandemic canceling community events since March, residents and visitors from out of town needed some Christmas cheer. According to Shannon, “The Village of Clemmons’ greatest passion is to offer free events to the entire community that appeal to all families so they can get out and enjoy themselves.” To combat COVID-related challenges, the Annual Christmas Tree Lighting was streamed live on social media to allow viewers some sense of holiday normalcy from the comfort of their sofas. As the first virtual event that the Village has ever held, more than 500 viewers gathered to watch the livestream. In fact, Shannon and her family had the honor of lighting the tree themselves. Chick-fil-A, the sponsor of the Annual Tree Lighting, still made it possible for viewers to enjoy a special treat. If customers in the drive-thru said, “Chick-fil-A has the world’s best brownies,” everyone in the vehicle received a free brownie. Miss the livestream? Visit the Village of Clemmons YouTube channel to rewatch the tree lighting at your convenience.
Want to know more? Visit clemmons.org and follow Clemmons Wonderland on Facebook to view photos and stay up-to-date on community events. To see more of Heather Romano McVane’s work, follow her on Instagram at @hromanoarts.