11/22/09 — Seven Springs opens Christmas season in Wayne

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Seven Springs opens Christmas season in Wayne

By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on November 22, 2009 1:50 AM

 SEVEN SPRINGS -- The first Christmas parade of the season was held in Wayne County's oldest town on Saturday, and like many things in this quiet corner of the county, things don't change much from year to year.

The parade still features local high school bands, church floats, fire trucks and assorted dignitaries, with almost all tossing candy to the throngs of children lining the parade route.

The event, said Amber Lambert, is more about seeing the residents of Seven Springs gather together than watching fancy parade floats glide by.

Mrs. Lambert, 23, and her husband, Michael, have lived in the area since 2000.

People who live in Seven Springs seem to be uncommonly friendly, Mrs. Lambert said.

"Just walking down the street, people, they say, 'Hey, how are you?' Like you've know them forever," she said.

Her husband said that the town's Civil War history is another thing that binds residents together.

"Almost the whole town was burned down," Lambert said.

But on Saturday, townsfolk were in a more celebratory mood.

"It's like a big old family reunion, for anybody that lives here, or has lived here," Mrs. Lambert said. "Even if they've moved away, they're here today."

Tommy Raynor, a Moss Hill resident, watched the Christmas parade from the back of his truck with his girlfriend, Kay.

On Saturday, being in Seven Springs for the Christmas parade was one way Raynor was trying to get into the Christmas spirit, he said.

"My Christmas spirit, it's getting started," he said.

Heather Grady, who lives on her husband Mack Grady's farm, helps him raise tobacco, corn, wheat, rye and livestock with their children, Jesse, 15, Virginia, 13, Rebecca, 11, and Caroline, 5. The children take part in the parade every year, in a float built by their church, Zion United Methodist, and this year was no exception.

Mrs. Grady said the tranquility and familiarity of Seven Springs make for a good family life.

"The people are very friendly, and it's a safe place for my children to grow up," said Mrs. Grady, who said her husband is a lifelong Seven Springs resident.

Now that she has settled in to Seven Springs, Mrs. Grady said she doesn't believe she could ever call another place "home."

"I don't think I'd ever relocate, because this is where our roots are," she said. "My children are growing up on the family farm, and it's safe. It's a good place to be. It really is."

Even when times get tough in Seven Springs, the community bands together, said Seven Springs Volunteer Fire Chief Chad Sutton, who has been married to wife, Leigh Ann Sutton, for 10 years. The pair have two girls, Samantha, 4, and 2-year-old Megan.

Before he became the fire chief, Sutton, who also farms, remembers the damage wrought by Hurricane Floyd in 1999.

"After Hurricane Floyd, there was approximately three foot of water on Main Street," Sutton recalled. "Where you're sitting, it would probably be over your head."

On Saturday, that was all history as bands, floats, horses and old Santa himself made the ride down the streets near the Neuse River.

The flood actually helped bring the community together, residents said. After the water receded, the residents came together to help one another rebuild and recover from the damage, the fire chief said.

"The friendliness of this place -- it's a family town. It's very supportive, giving," Sutton said.