It was a unique and special moment in time Thursday night as downtown Clinton was transformed once again into a Christmas wonderland that delighted child and adult alike.
The second Christmas in the City event — complete with hay rides, the building of a gingerbread house, carriage rides through downtown, choirs singing and a dazzling display at the History Museum — was a tremendous success, yet another feather in the cap of all those partnering agencies that, together, brought yet another gem of an adventure to residents of the city, the county and, most likely, a few visitors to boot.
Our hope that last year’s event would be the start of a wonderful new Clinton tradition has now been realized, and we applaud all those who had a hand in making this year’s holiday extravaganza just as spectacular as the one in 2011. In fact, it was a bit more special, what with the first-ever tree-lighting ceremony just down from the City Market, complete with toy soldiers giving the salute and the Clinton High Band the drum roll to kickoff the festivities.
And there was the giant step back in time one experienced if they happened to walk by one of a dozen or more individuals who looked as if they stepped right from the pages of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.’ In fact, they did, or at least the pages of the Sampson Community Theatre production of the play which started Friday night and continues again next weekend. Those characters mingled with Christmas in the City participants, gathering at the History Museum for a mini-concert, whetting the appetites for would-be theater-goers.
Each of the other event’s of the night were just as special. The carriage rides gave participants a unique vantage point from which to view the city, lit up in its Christmas finest; the hay rides offered fellowship and old-time fun on a crisp night made for just that kind of fun; the gingerbread event, a creative and entertaining game, of sorts, for the youngsters; and the choirs, magic to our ears.
But it was the History Museum, wrapped like a brightly-colored gift, that offered the most special presence. It provided not only its usual buffet of history, but a more dramatic and powerful display, allowing guests to step back in time to Christmases past.
Even for those who’ve had the pleasure of visiting one of Sampson County’s brightest gems, the History Museum seemed to take on a new life, offering a different, yet just as powerful display, leaving you wanting to come back for more and perhaps more still.
There was just something about that night, special in so many ways, a tribute to those who devised the idea and to the many volunteer hands who brought the idea to fruition.
Our county seat is growing and getting prettier by the day, a city on the move yet steeped in all the things that have made Clinton and Sampson County the special place that it has always been.
Christmas in the City has become one yet another of those gems, and one we are very glad is now offered.