Whether they are gathering here or at some distant location, Thanksgiving will still go on this year for many Rutherford County residents.
Because of the pandemic and unemployment, AAA Travel said it expects at least a 10 percent decrease in travel for Thanksgiving, the largest one-year drop since the Great Recession in 2008. Still, 50 million Americans will travel, including 1.2 million in Tennessee, AAA predicted.
Murfreesboro resident Molly Nemeth said her family is traveling to Texas. Her sister in San Antonio owns property inside a canyon.
“We go every year to rest and hike and swim the week leading up to Thanksgiving,” Nemeth said. “Then we head back to her house in Garden Ridge, Texas, and do Turkey Day. I bake pies, she does sides, my mom does the dressing and my dad has traditionally done the turkey. He has Alzheimer’s now and so we (me, my sister and our husbands) help him with it now.”
La Vergne Mayor Jason Cole said he and his family are planning to travel to Little Rock, Miss., outside of Meridian, to spend time with his in-laws. With her parents, his wife’s siblings, two sons-in-law and 13 grandchildren, there will be a full house. Oh, and cousins and great-grandparents are attending.
“We’ll eat, then go four-wheeling on their forested 80-acre property,” Cole said.
County Commissioner Craig Harris said he and his family are planning to go to the mountains in Boone, N.C.
“We engage in all outdoor activities, including climbing Grandfather Mountain,” Harris said. “It is my favorite holiday, something I look forward to.”
Those families will not have to worry about the cost of gasoline being a drag on their plans.
AAA – The Auto Club Group said on average, gas prices nationally are nearly 50 cents cheaper than this time last year, with October averages the lowest in more than 15 years. Last week, gas in Tennessee was nearly 46 cents cheaper per gallon than a year ago, making the state the eighth least-expensive market in the nation.
With many government officials warning against holiday travel due to COVID-19, demand is likely to dip in coming weeks, which may drop prices more.
One local who normally travels at Thanksgiving said the possible lockdowns are making him change his plans.
Nathan Harding of Rockvale said his family plans to celebrate Thanksgiving as normal, although they cancelled a short trip out of town that weekend. That was because they were not sure what officials in that area would do in terms of a lockdown or other measures.
“It will probably be OK, but we would hate to get to our destination and not be able to enjoy ourselves and be stuck indoors,” Harding said.
He has made backup plans for family holiday gatherings, he said. His children have done distance-learning from school twice due to contact tracing, and his oldest child attends Rockvale High School, which experienced a shutdown. He said he is concerned about his parents and in-laws, and he has had his children tested each time they were identified in contact tracing; they were negative.
“We haven’t and won’t make any decisions out of fear,” but said he makes decisions out of respect for the situation. “I’m appreciative that our state and local leaders trust us to make decisions that are best for our families and not a one size fits all rule.”