Christmas in the City is only three weeks away and this year’s fast-approaching festivities will include many of the old favorites such as carriage and hayrides along with some new additions, notably a “secret shop” that will allow children to buy something special for their parents, a massive snow slide for kids young and old and a “Taste of Christmas” that will bring some of the best food this county has to offer to downtown Clinton.
Plans are well underway for the 2015 Christmas in the City event sponsored by the Clinton Main Street Program and held in partnership with the Sampson Arts Council, Sampson County, the Clinton-Sampson Chamber of Commerce, Sampson County History Museum and Clinton Kiwanis Club.
The event is on tap for Thursday, Dec. 3. A full slate of activities will kick off at 5:30 p.m. with a Clinton Community Christmas tree lighting in the tree park behind the Clinton City Market.
From 6 to 8 p.m. a new partnership with the Clinton Kiwanis Club will be held at the courthouse, open as part of another first thanks to a continuing county partnership.
“They are doing a Kiwanis Secret Christmas Shop, where kids shop for grownups at the first floor of the Sampson County Courthouse,” said Clinton Main Street program manager Mary Rose. “So this is not just a partnership with the Kiwanis, it is a partnership with Sampson County.”
Children will be dropped off at one end of the courthouse by their parents and be escorted by elves and be able to purchase gifts ranging from $2-$10. The gifts will be wrapped along the way and the children will be dropped back to their parents moments later, a newly-wrapped present in hand.
“The kids will have a beautifully-wrapped little gift to present their mom and dad on Christmas morning,” Rose remarked. “We’re very excited about this partnership with Kiwanis.”
Also new to the event, from 5:30 to 8 p.m., some of the best food in Sampson County will come to the heart of Clinton as part of what is being deemed “Taste of Christmas.”
“We have partnered with Cowboy’s BBQ, Piggly Wiggly, Ribeyes and Southern Smoke BBQ to provide a taste of barbecue, pork and beef, cornbread and beverages,” said Rose, “to provide those families who don’t have time to eat before they come to the event an opportunity at the City Market for $7 a ticket.”
“Snowzilla,” a giant inflatable slide that will be free to the public, is also new this year.
“The exciting thing about this slide is it is 30 feet tall and 90 feet long. We’re hoping that will be a very popular event among children and adults,” Rose noted.
Christmas Memories at the Sampson County History Museum will include music, a toy exhibit and light refreshments, and will continue the History Museum’s participation in the yearly event, extending it down Lisbon Street.
Some old standbys will also be held at the Dec. 3 event, including the Sampson Arts Council’s gingerbread decorating activity, free to the public from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at the Sampson County Republican Party headquarters. Throughout the night, a slate of live music will also be provided for visitors. Wayne Edwards has coordinated a number of vocalists to bring their talents to downtown, and Dan Holland and his carolers will be strolling along the streets spreading the spirit of the season.
Carriage and hayrides will again meander through downtown and several adjoining residential neighborhoods. thanks to Clinton Truck & Tractor and Hubb’s Corn Maze. Those rides, a mainstay for the annual Christmas event, will this year receive assistance from the Clinton-Sampson Chamber of Commerce.
All proceeds from the rides will be donated to the History Museum.
The Council has already approved closing Main Street from Wall Street to Lisbon Street, Vance Street from Sampson Street to Wall Street, the parking lot at the west end of the Sampson County courthouse and the City Market parking lot from 3 to 9:30 p.m. Dec. 3.
Ornament on sale
At the upcoming event, as well as throughout the holiday season, the city’s first-ever Christmas ornament will also be available for purchase. Not only a keepsake, the proceeds from sales of the ornament will benefit local projects.
This year, a subcommittee of the Clinton Main Street’s Design and Promotion committees designed the inaugural ornament, which features the Sampson County Courthouse and a small history of the courthouse on the accompanying tag.
“This will be the first of hopefully many in the years to come,” said Rose, who noted the proceeds from sales of the ornament will go toward the Christmas in the City event as well as beautification projects. “These will be in downtown businesses and some of our committee members will have them for sale. These will make great holiday and Christmas gifts.”
From the ornaments to the food, the rides to the presents and live music, there is something for everyone — and nearly everything is free or offered at a nominal cost to keep the events going and the community beautiful for many Christmases to come.
“There are a lot of great opportunities associated with this event,” said Rose. “I feel like it is a very good community event and a wonderful time for everyone.”
Reach Managing Editor Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.