Gwen Pickett

Gwen Pickett, the owner of Monograms & More, stands next to one of the many trees found throughout her store as she prepares for the Holiday Open House, which starts Thursday.

Surrounded by a winter wonderland of trees, lights and ornaments, Monograms & More owner Gwen Pickett says she is eagerly awaiting the Holiday Open House.

The annual event, organized yearly by the Greenwood-Leflore County Chamber of Commerce, will run from Thursday to Saturday.

“It takes a week to decorate the store —  going back and forth getting everything out and set up,” Pickett said.

The open house is a local favorite amongst shoppers and store owners as the holiday season approaches, with participating retailers and restaurants offering special deals and discounts. This year, they also will implement safety measures to protect everyone against the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I am just really hoping that local people will show up and shop local,” Pickett said.

She is not the only one.

“It is a big event, and we are certainly looking forward to seeing all our customers and helping with their holiday shopping,” said Cindy Tyler, owner of Mississippi Gift Co. on Howard Street.

Cindy Tyler

Cindy Tyler, owner of Mississippi Gift Co., hangs an ornament on a tree in her store, eagerly awaiting local shoppers looking for presents.

Among rows of presents, treats and holiday decorations — including a new and timely ornament that  features Santa Claus sporting a face mask — Tyler said she thinks the community needs these kinds of festivities.

“I think everyone is just ready for some cheer and happiness in their life after this year,” Tyler said.

Santa will be stationed at the drive-through window at Bank of Commerce off Howard Street for walk-up visits.

To keep Santa’s lap germ-free, families will have to visit from the comfort of their own vehicles. Children will be able to give their letters to the man in red through the window slot, and he will give each child a candy cane.

Also, to maintain social distancing standards, only families may ride together in the traditional carriage ride, and there will be no trolley this year.

As for shops, each store will operate at a 75% capacity. Some merchants may also be displaying items for sale outdoors. Food samples will be pre-packaged for grab-and-go service, and beverages will be pre-poured into disposable cups.

Per city, county and state ordinance, everyone must wear a mask indoors.

“We definitely want to be cognizant of everything going on,” said Beth Stevens, executive director of the chamber. “We want people to be out there shopping, but we also want them to feel safe.”

Alongside the open house will also be the unveiling of the inaugural “Under the Delta Lights” holiday trail.

The illuminated trail, lined with holiday décor, will connect the Greenwood community by offering sights and sounds of the holiday season and will feature hundreds of feet of string lights, new LED lighting scenes, updated street decorations and holiday windows.

“I think people are ready for some resemblance of normal,” Stevens said. “I think people are looking forward to the holidays, and this sort of kicks things off for the season.”

A full list of participating shops and restaurants may be found at www.greenwoodmschamber.com.

• Contact Adam Bakst at 581-7233 or abakst@gwcommonwealth.com. Twitter: @AdamBakst_GWCW

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