Christmas will be coming to downtown Clinton in a matter of weeks, with holiday festivities slated to overtake the downtown and extend down to the Sampson County History Museum.
The Clinton Main Street Program, in partnership with the History Museum, Sampson Arts Council, Clinton Kiwanis Club, Clinton-Sampson Chamber of Commerce and St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, along with many sponsors and event volunteers, are putting on the activities, which will take place from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 7.
The Christmas offerings will kick off with a Clinton Community Christmas tree lighting at the tree park behind the City Market. There will be train, carriage and hay rides around downtown, candlelight tours and carols at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, the Kiwanis Secret Shop at the courthouse, Home for the Holidays at the museum and gingerbread decorating and live music around the square.
“The Christmas in the City event will provide families a perfect opportunity to mill around downtown Clinton and see all the beautiful Christmas lights and decorations in your favorite stores and businesses — and do not forget Santa will be at his house on the courthouse square,” said Clinton-Sampson Planning director Mary Rose, who serves as Main Street manager. “We hope there will be something for everyone to enjoy and families may begin a wonderful annual tradition of enjoying Christmas in the City.”
The event kicks off at 5:30 p.m. with the tree lighting
Hubb’s Farm, Kyle’s Farm, Clinton Truck and Tractor and Phil Hudson are all partnering with event organizers to provide carriage and hay rides from the Clinton City Market. Hay rides are $3 per person, or carriage seats can be reserved for $15 per person.
“We are looking forward to once again being a partner on this wonderful holiday event,” said Tammy Peterson of Hubb’s Farm. “We will be participating by providing hay rides, barrel train rides, as well as for the first time bringing our larger train which can accommodate children and parents.”
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church will be offering tours beginning at 5:30 p.m., as well as Lessons and Carols at 7 p.m. The gingerbread decorating activity also returns and will be located at 104 E. Main St. beside Simply NC.
“We are looking forward to having the kids use their creativity to decorate lots of gingerbread cookies,” said Kara Donatelli, executive director of the Sampson Arts Council,which is sponsoring the event. “All ages are invited to decorate gingerbread cookies.”
Chris Woodson, executive director of the Sampson County History Museum, also said he was happy, on behalf of the museum’s Board of Directors, to be part of Christmas in the City again
“We encourage you to stop by and explore Sampson County’s rich heritage and history,” Woodson said. “This year we bring you ‘Home for the Holidays’ as you stroll through our lighted Christmas village.”
The Clinton Kiwanis Club is hosting its third annual “Kiwanis Secret Christmas Shop,” where children shop for grownups. There will be plenty of gifts from which to choose, ranging from $2-$10. Security will be on-site so parents can drop their children at the side door of the courthouse to be escorted by someone from Kiwanis or the CHS Key Club.
”Then they’ll pick out their secret gifts, have them wrapped and return to their parents,” said Kiwanis Club’s Wendy Carr.
Santa Claus will be at his house on the courthouse square and entertainment on the square will be coordinated by Wayne Edwards. Southern Smoke BBQ will be at the City Market with their food truck offerings and Alfredo’s and Hwy 55 will be open as well.
“The Clinton Main Street Program Promotion Committee will be selling commemorative Christmas ornaments, cookbooks, and our ‘Milling Around Downtown Clinton’ T-shirts,” said Eva Thornton, a member of the Main Street’s Promotion Committee.
”Christmas is a special holiday in downtown Clinton and, with so many new businesses, we encourage citizens to visit downtown for their Christmas shopping this year,” Rose added. “When you need a break from shopping there are several restaurants in which to take a lunch or dinner break.”
City Lights contest
The Christmas in the City “City Lights” contest is happening once again in partnership with the Clinton Main Street Program and Lowe’s of Clinton, and this year will be bigger.
The contest is expanding to include areas outside the city limits which are within the Clinton City School district. The City Lights contest registration fee of $20 will guarantee a home is judged. In return for that fee, participants will receive a $20 Lowe’s coupon and the $20 fee will be donated toward Clinton Area Foundation for Education (CAFÉ) to benefit Clinton City Schools, with the option to specifically give toward Kerr School, Butler Avenue, Sunset Avenue, Sampson Middle School or Clinton High School.
A $50 Lowe’s gift card will be awarded to the six district winners — five city districts and the winner outside city limits — and be recognized with signs posted in their yards the morning of Thursday, Dec. 7, the day of Christmas in the City.
“Every year we get more creative on how to make Christmas in the City exciting and more convenient for our patrons. It pleases me that our annual event has become more concentrated in the downtown area and City Market,” said Debbie Roberts, Main Street Program Design Committee member. “Decorations will make the carriage rides more enjoyable and give all our city neighborhoods a Christmas glow.”
She thanked downtown businesses for their participation in the contest and said she and others were working hard to get more registrations.
Registrations for the City Lights contest must be completed and submitted by Nov. 27 to one of the following locations: Matthews Gifts of Clinton, Simply NC in Downtown Clinton or the Clinton-Sampson Planning Department at 227 Lisbon St. Make checks payable to the Clinton Development Corporation. To purchase carriage tickets for Christmas in the City, contact Betty Holland or Mary Rose at 910-299-4904.
Reach Managing Editor Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.