Children in Sampson County may not see Santa as they anxiously await Christmas morning, snuggled in their beds in anticipation of gifts under the tree, but they can catch a glimpse of him at local parades this month.
The jolly man from the North Pole will be one of many people participating in the Newton Grove Christmas Parade, scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 5. But he’s not the only special guest. Ronnie Wise, a longtime resident from Cecil’s Exxon, will serve as the grand marshal for the event. Betty Bass, parade director, is looking forward to everyone enjoying a plethora of parade participants.
“We had a good turnout this year,” Bass said. “I’m excited.”
Bass, a lifelong resident said it’s one of the yearly highlight for the small town located in northern Sampson County.
“I think it’s starting the Christmas season off right,” Bass said. “I love Christmas, it’s the day my savior was born.”
Recently, the town hosted its Circle of Lights ceremony, which featured performance from the Community Choir. Mayor Barbara Burch said special occasions brings families and friends together.
“We’re all there for the reason for the season, and that’s for the birth of Jesus Christ,” Burch said.
Floats and parade entries will be set up on Irwin Drive, starting at the Catholic Church and going to Eddie’s Café. The procession will begin on U.S. 701 North and proceed through the downtown circle. It will continue through Highway 55 in Newton Grove. Anyone interested in receiving more information about the parade or volunteering in the future may contact town hall at 910-594-0827.
“We’re hoping that this is one the biggest and the best parades that we ever had,” Burch said. We just hope everyone can come out and have a jolly good time.”
After the parade Saturday, Santa Claus will return to the North Pole to prepare for his biggest night of the year. But before then, he’ll return to Sampson County for the Roseboro Christmas Parade, scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 11, in downtown Roseboro, and the Clinton Christmas Parade, set for the following morning, Saturday, Dec. 12.
The grand marshal for Roseboro’s parade, Chasity Melvin, is a retired professional basketball player, has played for Lakewood High School and North Carolina State University.
Slot lineups are scheduled to begin at 5:45 p.m. Friday, Dec. 11 on Broad Street. Someone will be available to assist at the main staging area, behind Eddie’s Tire Service. The original deadline for the parade was set for Dec. 1, but town officials will accept entries until noon, Dec. 4. Information regarding the parade is available at 910-525-4121. Forms may be downloaded online at www.roseboronc.com. Town officials noted that their proceeds will help needy families with ties to Roseboro-Salemburg Middle School and Roseboro Elementary School.
For outgoing mayor David Alexander and lifelong resident, it will be his last time participating in a leadership role. He will share a float with the commissioners. During the event, he hopes everyone comes out to enjoy themselves to enjoy vendor and see plenty of floats with lights and decorations for the nighttime celebration.
“All of them have been great,” Alexander said about the parade, now in its 11th year. “This is a night parade and it’s always turned out to be great. I think this year is going to be better.”
The Christmas in Clinton Parade will wrap up the local processions on Saturday, Dec. 12, with the actual event starting at 10 a.m.
As with previous years, the procession, sponsored by the Clinton-Sampson Chamber of Commerce, will climb up College Street and wrap around the downtown, featuring homemade and professional floats, new and classic cars, fire trucks, area queens, little misses, clowns, bands, dancers, and of course Saint Nick himself.
“Bigger and better than ever,” Clinton Mayor Lew Starling attested, describing the upcoming parade.
Streets in and around the downtown will be closed from 8 a.m. to noon to accommodate preparation for the parade and the event itself, which will include well over 100 entries.