Mount Olive host annual Christmas Open House
By Catharin Shepard
Published in News on December 5, 2010 1:50 AM
MOUNT OLIVE -- Song, dance and wintry weather helped the town of Mount Olive bring up the lights Friday at its annual Holiday Open House.
A crowd of several hundred people gathered on Center Street to cheer on the Saint Sound performers from Southern Wayne High School and dancers from Ms. Robin's Academy of Dance, who provided entertainment to get guests in the spirit of the season.
Mount Olive Area Chamber of Commerce President Tyler Barwick welcomed residents and visitors to the official start of the town's holiday celebration.
"We're so lucky to have you all out here tonight. It looks like winter arrived just in time for Christmas," she said, standing beneath the town's live Christmas tree. Mount Olive Commissioner and Mayor Pro Tempore Kenny Talton and his son, Jack, and daughter, Mary Emma, turned on the town's Christmas tree lights with the help of a special guest.
Nick Fletcher, the son of deployed Air Force airman Rick Fletcher, assisted with the ceremony, as Talton asked the town to keep the country's men and women serving in the armed forces in their thoughts.
"Christmas is a special time to be with friends and family. It's also a special time we need to reflect on our armed forces, remember troops and their families, and those who don't have friends and family," he said, before turning on the lights.
Santa Claus arrived in a town fire department truck as the crowd welcomed him to the tune of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," before the children in attendance lined up to make a reindeer candy cane, pine cone tree ornaments and meet Santa himself.
"I thought we had more people this year because of the dance groups and Saint Sound drawing a crowd," said former chamber president Julie Beck.
Guests staved off the chilly temperatures with cocoa and snacks from local businesses Burger King and Andy's as Saint Sound performed Christmas carols. Later in the evening, dancers of all ages from Ms. Robin's Academy of Dance took to the bright lights of the improvised stage to perform to "Carol of the Bells" and the "Penguin Cha-Cha."
Jimmy and Betsy Adams of Mount Olive often attend the event, but came this year especially to watch their granddaughter, Addilee Turnage, perform with the dance groups.
"They did great. They always do," Adams said after their performance. "She's been dancing since she was three, and she's a senior this year."
Melissa Parrish helped her daughters Wanda and Emily and son, Nathan, pour glitter on their pine cones, after taking their turn on Santa's lap.
"This one wants a pink car, pink TV, pink pocketbook. Everything she wants, pink. That one there, she wants everything that's purple," she said about the two sisters. Nathan said he just wanted a skateboard.
It takes the combined work of the chamber, the town staff, local businesses and the students of Carver Elementary -- and Santa Claus, of course -- to bring the open house to downtown every year, Ms. Barwick said.
"This is a big community effort," she told the crowd.
Downtown businesses kept their doors open past normal business hours and the David John Aaron Museum also opened to give guests a peek at the town's history. Carver Elementary students provided artwork with a Christmas theme displayed on Center Street.