White Mills continues its Christmas tradition in spite of bridge closing

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Activities begin at 5:30 tonight

By Sarah Bennett

Even though the community’s 19th century one-lane bridge is closed for repair work, White Mills will continue today with its annual Christmas lighting, parade and chili dinner.

The parade begins at 5:30 p.m. followed by the chili dinner at 6 p.m., said Tim Dennis, minister of White Mills Christian Church. The Heartland Dulcimer Club will perform during the dinner.

The bridge lighting begins at 7:30 p.m. Because of the closure, the lighting on the bridge will be reduced, but other decorations will be put up in the vicinity of the bridge, Dennis said.

“Because of the work they’re doing, we knew to do a lot of electrical work would be a waste of time,” he said.

Also, Grover and Betty Sallee, who initiated the idea of holding the event 20 years ago, will be honored at the event.

Arches will be used to make a walking path near the bridge, Dennis said, among other lights and decorations.

Even though the bridge is closed, the reason for continuing the holiday tradition is two-fold, he said.

For one, Dennis said money raised from the chili dinner goes toward the Lakewood Elementary School’s Family Resource Center. About $1,000 is raised each year.

Second, it is a community event that brings people together in the holiday spirit, he said.

The bridge crosses the Nolin River and was closed in June based on state recommendations. Inspectors found the bridge’s structure, especially beneath the wooden deck, had deteriorated more than they expected.

The bridge is the only steel bridge in the county and one of the oldest in the state. A date plate on the bridge reads 1899.

Sarah Bennett can be reached at (270) 505-1750 or sbennett@thenewsenterprise.com.