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The second annual Charles Dickens-themed “Christmas in the City” extravaganza brought with it everything from carolers to carriage rides, gingerbread decorating to a visit to Christmases past. Kris Kringle himself even made a visit as part of the festivities in downtown Clinton Thursday, which organizers said proved a success.
Horse-drawn carriage and hay rides also ran throughout the night. Carolers strolled throughout the downtown, a gingerbread decorating activity was held for children and the long line of youngsters awaited Santa at his house on the court square Thursday. The activities extended down Lisbon Street to the History Museum, where an old-fashioned holiday was celebrated and an open house, reception and silent auction held.
David King, president of the Sampson County History Museum, said the event exceeded his expectations.
“It went really, really well,” said King. “We had 500 people in all that came through here, or more. Last year was beautiful. This year was even better. The food was great. I heard people talking about the buggy rides and saying how much they enjoyed them. They said it was like Charleston or somewhere, not Clinton. That was kind of refreshing.”
Luminaries and torches lit the path from the City Market to the museum, making for a festive and old-fashioned holiday experience, with some even dressed in period attire.
The museum was decorated for its open house for the public, as well as a paid reception and silent auction held on the grounds. This year’s reception was organized by Debbie Roberts and featured the work of several local caterers. Numerous local individuals, groups and businesses donated toward the reception and silent auction.
The Christmas in the City event was 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.
“We were very pleased with all aspects of the event and the broad community participation,” said Mary M. Rose, planning director for the Clinton-Sampson Planning Department. “Everyone I spoke with seemed to have a very enjoyable holiday experience.”
Rose said the event served as a quality fundraiser for the local museum — and there still remained other revenue to be counted. “The silent auction raised $1,250, which will be donated to the Sampson County History Museum,” she said.
King said the money raised would go a long way toward hiring more help at the museum, which receives constant visitors and has been the site of an increasing workload for staff. The hard work definitely paid off Thursday, as visitors to the History Museum were blown away by the transformation the old buildings on the museum grounds underwent with full Christmas decorations under a moon that was just as full. A chill in the air completed the experience.
“People who hadn’t been here said ‘this is a village back here.’ They said it was like being somewhere else,” said King. “Everything was just great. It was a lot of work, but it was worth it, especially after seeing people’s faces.”
A Christmas decorating contest for the residences and businesses located along the carriage and hay ride routes was added this year, with judging held Wednesday.
First place went to Melissa Griffin on Johnson Street, a $75 prize; second place went to Margaret Williamson on Herring Street, a $50 prize; and third place was Powell’s Insurance on Lisbon Street, for $25. Honorable mention went to Butler’s Pharmacy and Gift Shoppe on Main Street; Michael and Ginny Judge on Chestnut Street; and Delaby Brace and Limb on Lisbon Street.
Another new addition to the event this year was the community Christmas tree lighting, which kicked off the festivities in the tree park behind the Clinton City Market on Lisbon Street, the same area from which horse-drawn carriage and hay rides departed.
“The first annual Clinton Christmas tree lighting was a great success with many thanks to band director Mark Cashin and the Clinton High School Marching Band, as well as the Dance Shoppe dancers under the direction of Wanda Coleman,” Rose said.
King said each and every aspect, from the gingerbread decorating, the carriage rides, the tree-lighting and the History Museum’s offerings, were received extremely favorably.
“It went so well, we were just tickled to death,” said King. “The people who didn’t come out don’t know what they missed. It really was amazing. We’re extremely happy with the way it went, and we’re looking forward to next year’s. We have a lot to do to keep the tradition going.”
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at email@example.com.