Shoppers looking for a last-minute gift idea can still get the City of Clinton’s 2017 ornament, an annual keepsake that pays tribute to local landmarks while supporting beautification projects in the heart of Sampson County.
The City of Clinton’s 2017 Christmas ornament, showcasing the Victor R. Small House, are now available for $20 each, with all proceeds benefiting downtown revitalization. It is the third in the city’s collectible series featuring hand-painted designs on blown glass, each ornament taking two days to make and — like snowflakes — none identical.
There are also still some ornaments available from 2015 and 2016, which exhibited the Sampson County Courthouse and the old College Street School, respectively.
“We still have 2017, 2016 and a few 2015 ornaments,” said Clinton-Sampson Planning director Mary Rose, who serves as Clinton Main Street manager. “They are $20 each and would make great gifts. They are available in our office, Simply NC and Royal Gifts in downtown Clinton.”
The series of Christmas ornaments displaying scenes from Clinton’s past and present was introduced in 2015 to a tremendous response — so positive in fact that an additional order was made of that inaugural design depicting a past glimpse of downtown Clinton, featuring the Sampson County Courthouse.
There were 140 of the 2015 ornaments sold and a re-order made of 140 more, 50 of which were pre-purchased. For the 2016 ornament, 280 were ordered based on the success of the inaugural ornament’s sales, a trend that has continued.
In the inaugural year, Rose and others shared their hope that the 2015 memento would be the “first of hopefully many in the years to come,” stretching into a series of collectible keepsakes that captured Clinton’s best.
“We have had a positive response to the ornament, with many people desiring to purchase one of each to begin a collection,” Rose has remarked. “They have been referred to by those purchasing as great Christmas gifts, especially for people from Clinton who now live elsewhere.”
The ornaments go through a “painstaking design process” as described on the materials that accompany the ornament.
Made in China and distributed from a California company, each ornament is placed in a velvet box with a small card that gives a brief history of the depicted scene as well as an explanation of the two-day effort that goes into making each of the ornaments, from the hand-blown glass to the detailed application of each of the colors.
“No two pieces are identical,” Clinton Main Street Design Committee member Helen Kearns has said of the process. “I think that’s what sets it apart.”
A brief passage details the history of that landmark or location, which is chosen through a survey. The design is ultimately submitted by a subcommittee of the Clinton Main Street’s Design and Promotion committees.
For years leading up to the embarking of the effort in 2015, Kearns had been trying to find the best way to offer a commemorative ornament that shared some of Clinton’s rich history, with the hopes it would become a series if the ornaments proved popular. A collector of the annual White House ornaments for more than two decades, Kearns said the product, if done with care, would catch on quickly.
It was not until local business owner Jimmy Matthews attended a Christmas Gift Show in Atlanta in early 2015 that the idea came into clearer view. After seeing one particular hand-painted ornament, he brought a sample back to Kearns. She loved it.
City nonprofit Clinton Development Corporation (CDC) has funded the effort and teamed up with the Clinton Main Street Program to bring it to fruition.
“It’s something we thought would be beneficial,” said Rose. “Sometimes (the CDC) might want to do projects and this is an opportunity to do additional beautification efforts in the downtown.”
For more information, call the Clinton-Sampson Planning offices at 910-299-4904.
Reach Managing Editor Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.