First in a series
Following the success of last year’s inaugural holiday event, the second annual “Christmas in the City” extravaganza is slated to bring a Charles Dickens’ theme, including carolers, gingerbread, carriage rides and the jolly old elf himself, to downtown Clinton at the end of this month.
Carolers will stroll throughout the downtown and serenade visitors with the sounds of Christmas, while a gingerbread decorating activity is held for children and Santa waits at his house to hear what each youngster wants. Horse-drawn carriage and hay rides will also run throughout the night and the Sampson County History Museum’s offerings will hearken back to old times in celebrating the season.
The event will be held from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 29.
A new addition to the event this year is the community Christmas tree lighting, which will kick off the festivities at 5:30 p.m. in the tree park behind the Clinton City Market on Lisbon Street.
“The Christmas in the City Committee has been working diligently to make sure this event will be a special one for our community and county. (The committee) is striving to focus on a different theme each year as we move forward in bringing this annual holiday event to downtown,” said Mary M. Rose, planning director for the Clinton-Sampson Planning Department. “The themes — like this year’s ‘Dickens Christmas’ — will make the event exciting and different each year.”
The event is sponsored by the Clinton Main Street Program in partnership with the Clinton-Sampson Chamber of Commerce, the Sampson Arts Council, the Sampson Community Theatre, the Sampson County Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Sampson County History Museum.
“As part of the festivities, cast members from the Sampson Community Theatre’s production of Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’ will perform a variety of carols dating back to the 1800’s,” said Kathy Day, board member at the community theater.
The carolers will perform at the City Market, the History Museum and then move on to the porch of the main courthouse as they entertain. The caroling will also help ring in the theater’s production, which opens on Friday, Nov. 30 and runs through Sunday, Dec. 9.
Leading up to “Christmas in the City,” children will be able, from Monday, Nov. 26, through Thursday, Nov. 29, to collect candy decorating pieces from participating merchants around downtown. Each child can bring the candy pieces they have collected to the CenturyLink building, located at 115 Fayetteville St., next to the theater, to decorate a cookie to take home.
The Sampson Arts Council is also sponsoring a separate gingerbread house contest, with the deadline set for Nov. 16. Entries will be on display and winners will be announced at the CenturyLink building on the evening of the “Christmas in the City” event.
“The Sampson Arts Council is very excited about being a part of this holiday event in downtown Clinton,” said Kara Donatelli, director of the Sampson Arts Council. “The gingerbread cookies, which the children are invited to come downtown to decorate on Nov. 29, will be a fun and creative way for the children to begin the holiday season.”
Clinton-Sampson planner Audrey Whetten said it is also a great example of a local business being involved in a community event, which there is a great deal of as part of the second-annual offering.
“As part of the Clinton Main Street Program’s effort to promote shopping downtown,” said Whetten, “we express a special thank you to CenturyLink for hosting this activity and to all the downtown businesses who are participating.”
Along with CenturyLink, current sponsors of the event include Hubb’s Corn Maze, Matthews Gifts, Party Perfect Rentals and Williamson Gas.
Not just limited to the downtown, the event activities continue to the Clinton City Market on Lisbon Street.
There, carriage and hay rides will be offered from 5:30 p.m. until 9 p.m. That aspect of the event is hosted by Vickie Crane, director of the Sampson County Convention & Visitors Bureau, with hay rides provided by Hubb’s Corn Maze and carriage rides made possible by Larry Holland.
“Nothing adds excitement and joy to the holiday season like a horse-drawn carriage ride. Apparently others agree because ticket sales are going great and everyone seems really excited,” said Crane. “It has been a pleasure to partner with the Christmas in the City Committee to offer this activity to kick off the Christmas holiday. I have no doubt a good time will be had by all that participate.”
In an effort to add to that “good time” and the spirit and atmosphere of the evening, the “Christmas in the City” committee has added a Christmas decorating contest for the residences and businesses located along the carriage and hay ride routes. Judging will take place on Wednesday, Nov. 28, with winners announced at the “Christmas in the City” event the next day.
The evening will be capped off at the Sampson County History Museum, which will be decorated and open for free tours as part of their holiday open house. As it was last year, a reception and silent auction will be held on the grounds of the museum. This year’s reception is being organized by Debbie Roberts and will feature the work of several local caterers. Tickets are $10 per person in advance and $12 at the door.
Jeannie King, director for the Sampson County History Museum, said organizers and volunteers have been enthusiastic in coordinating the event around the museum. Luminaries and torches will light the path from the City Market to the museum, making for a festive and old-fashioned holiday experience.
“Kay Raynor is coordinating the decorations for the museum again this year, and we appreciate her efforts in addition to those of Bryant’s Florist, the Clinton Garden Club and other volunteers working to decorate the museum property for this event,” King said. “You will not want to miss seeing the buildings decked out for an Ol’ Timey Christmas.”
Clinton-Sampson Chamber of Commerce director Janna Bass said she is pleased to be hosting the silent auction at the History Museum. Bass said she has been overwhelmed by the generous response already received.
“We have had such a great response from businesses in Clinton and Sampson County who have provided a variety of contributions for the auction, including some décor pieces and some items that would make great gifts,” said Bass. “It will be a great opportunity to bid on something special or just get some wonderful decorating ideas.”
For more information on the event, to purchase tickets to the reception or inquire about sponsorship opportunities, call 910-299-4904 or visit www.christmasinthecityclinton.com. To purchase carriage ride tickets, contact Vickie Crane at 910-592-2557.
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.