MOUNT MORRIS – It was a year ago, on May 25-26, that Rebecca Jones was celebrating the opening of Pine Creek Canyon, a property she had purchased the month before.
Today, the Oregon native is trying to stay positive while the COVID-19 virus has kept her wedding venue and the White Pines Roller Skating Rink that she also owns closed.
“The most important thing is being grateful for the things we have,” she said, citing family and health.
She is also thankful that the cabins that are part of Pine Creek Canyon have been open and people have been enjoying them.
“Those have had a great response from the local community,” Jones said.
But weddings are the cornerstone of Pine Creek Canyon, and there haven’t been any so far this year. Jones said they haven’t had to cancel any weddings yet, but May and June weddings have been moved to later dates.
“A few of them moved, and a few of them are hanging on,” she said.
Those weddings that might take place in June will of course have smaller guest lists, as gatherings of more than 50 people won’t be allowed in Illinois. Jones said the Canyon will open on June 1, and as it is an outside venue people can social distance.
She said that, thankfully, most couples have been very understanding. She said some couples realize the event can still be special, just different. And others, while “a little shaken up,” have opted to move their ceremonies to 2021.
“I’ve been very fortunate to have great people to work with,” Jones said.
But the closing of White Pines resort, which is across the road from her wedding venue, has created some problems for those holding weddings at the Canyon. Jones said about 80 percent of people who have weddings at Pine Creek Canyon had receptions set for White Pines Resort. She said some are still moving forward with the ceremony, but others are backing out and getting a refund.
And this also hits very close to home for Jones as White Pines Resort owner Beth George has been a mentor and a friend. George recently announced that she is closing the resort and filing for bankruptcy.
“We’re still going to come out of this great friends,” Jones said, adding that the cabins and Canyon are a part of George’s legacy.
Jones said she is unsure what will happen with the resort, but that she loves White Pines. She said she basically grew up there and still walks the property.
“It’s so special to me, business aside, I’m just heartbroken it could sit there and no one would pick it up,” she said, adding that she is hopeful the state will step in.
The skating rink, which she purchased last year just before Christmas, is also closed. She said currently, the state said it cannot re-open until a vaccine is available. Jones said a rink group is lobbying the state to change that.
In the meantime, Jones said that she will continue to move forward. She said that she knew that she loved the community, but the outreach she has received during this difficult time has been incredible.
“It makes me emotional just thinking about it.”