11/21/08 — Lighting the lights: Mount Olive gathers for annual celebration

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Lighting the lights: Mount Olive gathers for annual celebration

By Catharin Shepard
Published in News on November 21, 2008 1:53 PM


The soft glow of the colorful lights on the Mount Olive town Christmas tree appeared to fascinate 2-year-old Avery Abrams, who kept urging his grandfather, Buck Abrams of Mount Olive, to move closer and closer to the tree. Avery is the son of Patrick and Morgan Abrams. He is also the grandson of Marie Abrams. Thursday night's tree lighting was part of the Mount Olive Area Chamber of Commerce's annual Mount Olive Holiday Open House. The event included merchant's promotions, free food, tours of the town museum, carolers and Santa, who arrived in the town's new platform ladder truck.

MOUNT OLIVE -- The stars came out as the lights came up Thursday in Mount Olive at the city's sixth annual Holiday Open House.

Drivers stopped their cars in the middle of Center Street to listen to the Mount Olive College Singers and Concert Choir members, directed by Gregg Cannady, perform upbeat and more traditional Christmas carols and hymns.

Perhaps in the spirit of the season, no one honked their horn or seemed to mind the slight delay in traffic.

"This is so nice," said Dr. Sherri-Marcia Damon, band director and instructor of instrumental performance and music education at Mount Olive College.

"The one thing about Christmas is it draws everybody out," she said.

The weather was a mild 48 degrees as the sun went down, but people still lined up outside Debbie's Hair Styling, where owner Debbie Jordan, her son, Kevin Jordan, daughter-in-law, Lynn Jordan, and granddaughter, Lauren Jordan, were ready with a big bowl of hot cider and table of treats for the holiday partygoers.

"Last year it was a lot colder," said Mrs. Jordan, who four years ago started the tradition of providing the refreshments from her decorated storefront.

Former Mayor Ruff Huggins, a veteran of Mount Olive Christmas celebrations, attended the event.

"I've been here since the 1970s. I don't think I've missed many of them," he said. "I turned the lights on for 10 years."

Santa Claus arrived in a Mount Olive fire truck and shook hands with children gathered around the city's live tree.

Before turning on the lights, Mount Olive Mayor Pro-tem Kenny Talton thanked the many volunteers who donated their money and time to organize the open house.

"In my 38 years, it's really nice to come home and see people who continue to make a difference in our town," he said.

Talton encouraged the crowd to give of themselves to others during the holidays.

"Think about what you can do to help contribute during this season," he said. "Be thankful for your blessings each and every day."

Activities were available for kids and parents, but the most popular was the chance to sit on Santa's lap.

Seven-year-old Caroline Summerlin wanted a Hannah Montana guitar, and her 4-year-old sister Catherine asked for a Disney Princess doll.

Toby Weeks, 2, clung to his father, Neal Weeks, while mom, Melinda, provided encouragement, but Toby didn't want to shake Santa's hand.

Buck Abrams' 2-year-old grandson Avery seemed more interested in the town Christmas tree than the man in red.

"We try to go to all the events downtown," Abrams said, while his grandson admired the tree lights.

Saint Nick said he got an eclectic gift list from area children.

"They asked for everything from golf carts, puppy dogs, books," he said. "Nintendo games were the big thing."

"Mount Olive has been good," he said, giving a thumbs-up.