RICHMOND COUNTY – The month of December has just begun, and the Christmas season in Richmond County is already well underway. Tremendous trees have been lit, carols have been sung, and Santa has already made a stop by Leath Memorial Library.
With so many events already in the books, it may seem as if the Christmas season is nearly over. But there is still so much more to come. Such events are just the tip of the iceberg for local festivities this holiday season.
The “most wonderful time of the year” is being celebrated by towns, businesses, and churches across Richmond County with events varying from classic tree lightings, to festivals, and of course, the annual parade.
Towering trees of twinkling lights have already been lit in towns such as Hamlet and Rockingham since as early as Monday. But on Monday, December 4, the town of Hoffman will join the pack and will light its tree for the first time this year. Free homemade chili, hot dogs, and musical entertainment will round out the event which will start at 7:30 p.m.
Ellerbe residents will see their town tree shine for the first time Friday night with the annual “Hometown Christmas” celebration. Lasting from 5 to 8 p.m., the event will include free admission to the Rankin Museum of American Heritage, shopping, refreshments, and visits from Mr. and Mrs. Claus themselves. Although the event requires no admission ticket, all attendees are encouraged to bring a new toy or canned goods to be donated to the Toys for Tots program and local food banks.
Rockingham will hold their annual Christmas on the Square festival on Saturday, December 2, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. This all-day event will host over 100 vendors from near and far, selling gifts and goods of all shapes and sizes.
While parents shop for gifts for everyone on their list, children will have the opportunity to explore the Kids’ Zone, complete with a bouncy house, climbing wall, train rides, a super-slide, and goodies from Santa. The Lions Club will be on scene to offer free vision screenings, while the Rockingham Police Department will offer free child fingerprinting.
Hamlet will continue its host of festivities with their annual Christmas parade. Existing for over 60 years, the parade has become a tradition for Hamlet and Richmond County natives. This year’s parade will feature floats, musical performances, dancers, and Miss North Carolina. The parade is set to be held on Thursday, December 7, starting at 3:30 p.m.
The parade will set the scene for the city’s 11th annual Old-Fashioned Christmas event. This two-night celebration, scheduled for 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. on December 8, and 6 to 10 p.m. on December 9, will transport attendees to the days of Christmas’s past. Friday evening’s event will take place on E. Hamlet Avenue and will feature live performances, horse and buggy rides, balloon making, and of course, hot cocoa.
Saturday evening’s portion of Old Fashioned Christmas will be a little more elaborate, and will include a holiday shopping bazaar comprised of local vendors and merchants, transportation to Second Baptist’s live nativity scene, and mesmerizing performances by the Mezzanine Beecomb Circus Troupe. This talented group of performers are a new addition to the Old Fashioned Christmas, and are certain to entertain attendees of all ages with their balloon makers, jugglers, elves and a stilt walking snow queen.
Sandhills Children’s Center, a developmental day care facility for children here in Richmond County and surrounding areas, is also doing its part to spread Christmas cheer. Its 21st annual Festival of Trees is currently underway and will continue until Sunday at 4 p.m.
This time-honored tradition, taking place at the Carolina Hotel in Pinehurst, will include raffles, daily themes, and over 200 hand-decorated Christmas trees. All proceeds from this event go directly to serving the needs of the children.
Local businesses are even getting into the Christmas spirit with the inaugural “12 Days of Chamber” campaign. The 12 day event, hosted by the Richmond County Chamber of Commerce, is an all new social media campaign that is designed to promote shopping local this season.
Each day of the campaign features another local chamber business and is co-hosted by a local “celebrity.” This event started on Monday, November 27, and will continue each business day through Tuesday, December 12.
However, amongst all of these festivals and celebrations, many people find it important to not overlook the true origin and meaning of this time of year – the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.
Mount Olive Baptist Church will be welcome in the Christmas season by bringing the bible to life in their “Scenes of Christ” drive-through display. Their church community has come together to assemble over 100 actors, live animals, in-car narration, and post display refreshments to create an experience that attendees will treasure.
The members of First Baptist Church in Rockingham will also be hosting numerous events throughout the advent season. Beginning with the hanging of the greens service on Sunday, December 3, at 10:55 a.m., and concluding with two Christmas eve services on December 24, at 11:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., the church will host a total of eight festive events throughout the course of December.
Ranging from a retelling of the story of Christmas, to caroling, and a children’s party, they are sure to have something to put a smile on the faces of both church members and community members alike.
With such a multitude of free events and celebrations this holiday season, there is no denying that there is certainly something to be thankful for in every corner of the county.