CANTON — The Mountain at Old Mill Marketplace plans to welcome guests on Thanksgiving Day, less than three weeks after fire tore through the "Old West" shopping center claiming 20 shops — about ten percent of the property.
"Unfortunately, I don’t have the money to rebuild. I wish I did, but I am going to do whatever it takes," said Debbie Gabehart, a shop owner who lost two storefronts in the November 9 blaze.
On the cusp of their busiest time of year, progress on the Mountain isn’t as fast as store owners would like. Wet, cold weather has delayed the cleanup process.
"We are trying to prepare to be as normal as we can, and to have it as cheerful as we can, because that is our goal," said Kim Parker, a board member on the Mountain Association. She hopes her customers will see past the ash and help fuel their recovery efforts.
And among the traditional holiday gifts you’ll find something new: A piece of jewelry they are calling "fire diamonds." Shop owners have recovered bits of melted glass they are working to encase in jewelry, and the proceeds will go back into the Mountain.
"It also symbolizes hope for the future, because out of a lump of coal comes a diamond," Parker said.