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Plans line up for area Christmas parades
  • Updated

Santa Claus is coming to towns across Wayne County starting this Saturday, and he is heralding the return of Christmas parades after a hiatus caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Santa will begin his journey in the Seven Springs parade on Saturday followed by three parades on Dec. 4 in Mount Olive, Fremont and Goldsboro and the Pikeville Christmas Parade on Sunday, Dec. 5.

The Fremont parade will be dedicated to the memory of the late Keith Stewart, a community leader who organized and directed the parade for more than 40 years.

The Seven Springs Christmas Parade will step off at 3 p.m. Saturday.

The parade is free to enter, and entries can show up the day of the event, said Ronda Hughes, town commissioner and one of the parade organizers.

“We do allow candy to be thrown out,” Hughes said.

The town will hold its annual Trim a Tree at 6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 27, at the old rescue building at the corner of N.C. 55 and Main Street in Seven Springs.

A live band will be playing Christmas music. Children can visit with Santa. Those attending can bring finger foods.

The event is free to everyone, and those attending will help to decorate the tree.

“I would like to ask if anyone could please bring a new unwrapped toy to either function,” Hughes said. “The toys would be greatly appreciated. The toys will go to the local schools to help make some children’s Christmas a little brighter.

“The toys are for a girl or boy ages 4 to 12. The toys can be dropped off at Neuse River Trading on parade day or at the Trim a Tree.

“All donations for the children would be greatly appreciated,” Hughes said. “I am looking forward to bringing back some celebration to everyone. We haven’t had a parade in a couple of years. It will be great to see everyone again.”

For more information, call Hughes at 919-222-9290.


Mount Olive will host its Holiday Open House from 6 to 7:30 Friday, Dec. 3, followed by its Christmas parade at 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 4. Both are sponsored by the Mount Olive Area Chamber of Commerce.

The Holiday Open House will be held at the Southern Bank parking lot at the corner of South Center and East Main streets.

It will feature Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus at the Santa House, pickle train rides, roasting marshmallows, crafts and letter writing to Santa.

Mayor Kenny Talton will lead the tree-lighting ceremony.

Hot cocoa and doughnuts will be for sale.

Children ages 12 and younger can register to be junior grand marshal for the parade.

The parade will line up at 9 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 4, at Carver Elementary School on Old Seven Springs Road. The parade will step off at 10 a.m. and follow Old Seven Springs Road to North Church Street. It will turn left (south) on North Church Street and right (west) on East College Street. It will follow College Street to North Center Street and will travel along both sides of Center Street.

It will disband after turning right (east) on East James Street.

The grand marshal will be announced Friday, Nov. 19. Mr and Mrs. Claus will be in the parade, and candy will be thrown from the floats.

Nov. 29 is the entry deadline.

For more information, call the Chamber office at 919-658-3113 or visit moachamber.com.


The Fremont Christmas Parade will get underway at 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 4.

“This year’s parade is being dedicated in loving memory of Keith Stewart, who organized and directed the parade for over 40 years,” said Shari Stewart, parade organizer. “Serving as grand marshals for this year’s parade will be the Keith Stewart’s family.

“Please come and join us on Saturday, Dec. 4, as we celebrate the Christmas season in Fremont.”

Anyone interested in entering the parade should call Fremont Pharmacy at 919-242-4573 Monday through Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Parade entries are due no later than Tuesday, Nov. 30.

The parade entry fee is $25 for all businesses. All other entries are free.

Checks should be made payable to “Troop 12 Boy Scouts.” Payment is due by Nov. 30.

Payments can be mailed to P.O. Box 147, Fremont, N.C., 27830 or dropped off at Fremont Pharmacy.

The parade lineup will start at 11 a.m. at North Vance Street by the cemetery. Members of Troop 12 will help direct entries to their spot. All fire trucks will be lined up on South Vance Street to turn left onto Main Street.

The parade will travel from Vance Street and turn right onto Main Street, turn left on Goldsboro Street, turn left onto Alumni Lane, left on Vance Street, right on South Street, and then left on Dock Street to head back to the cemetery.

Fremont will host its annual Christmas Tree-Lighting Service beginning at 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 3. It will feature various entertainment, and Santa will also be making a stop in Fremont that night.

The town Christmas tree is located by the railroad tracks on Goldsboro Street, about half a block down from Main Street.


Goldsboro will kick off the holiday season prior to its yule march when it hosts Downtown Lights Up from 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 23.

The night of family fun will include flipping a switch to light up downtown Goldsboro for the holiday season

Sponsored by N.C. Community Federal Credit Union, the free event will features visits with Santa Claus, snow, holiday characters, hot cocoa, children’s crafts, free horse-drawn trolley rides from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., live entertainment and more.

Back by popular demand are ice/snow slides.

Meet in front of City Hall at 5 p.m. where the crowd will be led in the Lights Up countdown.

While waiting, people can enjoy an outdoor holiday movie.

Those attending also can purchase tickets to see the N.C. Symphony’s annual Holiday Pops Concert at the Paramount Theatre after the event, or plan to shop and dine at downtown’s shops and restaurants.


The Goldsboro Christmas Parade, sponsored by the Wayne County Chamber of Commerce, will step off at 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 4, downtown.

Entries will line up near the airplane display just north of East Ash and North Center streets.

“The route is going to be different this year because (the late) Mayor (Chuck) Allen worked on getting Streetscape done, and I think it is time that we enjoy it, and the city is excited about it,” said Lara Landers, Chamber director of marketing and events. “So, it’s going to go straight down (the east side of) Center Street to the turnaround at Pine Street and back up (the west side of) Center Street.

“We have a beautiful Streetscape, so we should use it, and there is plenty of space for people down there to spread out. We should use it, and that is what we are going to do.”

The parade will exit off of Ash Street where it will disband.

Landers said she did not have a current count of entries, but that there seemed to be a good number.

“I think people are excited to have it back,” she said. “It is a tradition for Goldsboro families, so I know they missed it last year and are glad it is back this year.”

The entry deadline is Wednesday, Nov. 17. However, the Chamber normally receives entries up to the week of the parade, she said.

“We will stop taking them on the week of the 29th, we just have a late fee,” Landers said. “The first 10 that come on the 29th are the last ones to get in, and there is a late fee.”

For more information send email to laral@waynecountychamber.com, call 919-734-2241 or 919-920-5949 or visit waynecountychamber.com.


The Pikeville Christmas Parade will be held at 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 5. Lineup will begin at 1 p.m.

The town is working in conjunction with the Lewis family to present the parade.

A Town Christmas Tree Lighting, sponsored by the Greater Pikeville Improvement Committee, will follow the parade at 5:30 p.m. at Dees Memorial Park, 105 W. School St.

Parade entry registration is Saturday, Nov. 20.

For more information, call Megan Beasley, 919-252-0634, or Debbie Lewis, 919-921-0569.

North Carolina State’s Madison Hayes (21), Diamond Johnson (0), Jakia Brown-Turner (11) and Raina Perez (2) celebrate their win over Towson on Monday in Raleigh.

US 264 approved for interstate designation

A 37-mile section of U.S. 264 between Wilson and Greenville has received federal approval to become Interstate 587.

The new interstate, which will include new signage next year, will improve access around Wilson and provide Greenville with interstate access, said Andrew Barksdale, N.C. Department of Transportation spokesman.

Prior to the designation, Greenville was one of the largest cities in the United States not served by an interstate, Barksdale said.

The 37-mile stretch of roadway through Wilson, Greene and Pitt counties is located between I-95 and I-795 in Wilson County to the N.C. 11 and U.S. 264 interchange in Greenville, according to the N.C. Department of Transportation.

The I-587 designation that took years of work prior to federal approval is expected to make travel easier and also increase the likelihood of economic development in eastern North Carolina.

“It’s important we continue to improve highway access and promote economic development in eastern North Carolina,” said Melvin Mitchell, a Rocky Mount member of the N.C. Board of Transportation.

Efforts to bring U.S. 264 to interstate standards began after the completion of I-795 in Wilson several years ago, Barksdale said.

In 2016, the Federal Highway Administration and American Association of State Highway and Transportation officials conditionally approved the state’s application to add U.S. 264 between Zebulon and Greenville to the future I-587. Once the work to upgrade the highway was completed, DOT received full approval for the interstate designation.

Upgrading U.S. 264 has included widening and resurfacing the highway and the completion of an 18-mile section between the Wilson County line and the Stantonsburg Road/Southwest Bypass interchange in Greenville.

Thomas Taft Jr., who represents the Greenville area for the N.C. Board of Transportation, said Tuesday interstate connectivity is a critical economic development tool that helps with recruiting industry and business, and without it, industries typically avoid areas without nearby interstate access.

“From this point forward we can expect continued growth for our existing industries and a more competitive outlook for new opportunities that will now be in play simply because of our interstate connection,” Taft said.

“I’m beyond pleased that after 50-plus years without interstate connectivity to Greene and Pitt counties, the day has finally come for us to announce the official addition of I-587 to the United States Interstate Highway program. Through the incredible efforts of our DOT staff in Divisions 2 and 4, alongside state leadership, eastern North Carolina can proudly show its new shield to the world.”

Operation Santa provides gifts for forgotten

Some people living in area facilities might not have a Christmas if it weren’t for the Mental Health Association in Wayne County.

The organization sponsors Operation Santa Claus to get gifts to individuals who are in rest homes or care facilities. The program has been going on since 1960 in some way or another.

“With the pandemic, we’re doing it a little differently now,” said Emily Peacock, Mental Health Association president. “What we do is we have about 15 care facilities that provide us names of individuals and gifts that they would like to receive, along with their sizes.”

Gifts could include a robe, gown, pajamas or a sweatsuit. Peacock said some residents even want a radio or something else they can use.

“We’ve gotten requests for the whole gamut of everything,” she said. “One guy even requested a pineapple cake one time because he hadn’t had one in years. So he wanted a pineapple cake.”

She said Operation Santa Claus chairman Michelle Rogers made sure the man got his cake.

The Mental Health Association accepts monetary donations, and then purchases gifts for people and returns them to the care facilities, trying to be as economical as possible and use the donations wisely.

This year, Operation Santa Claus has a goal to raise $6,000 to provide gifts for more than 300 people in Wayne County.

Peacock said in past years, Operation Santa Claus has been fortunate to be able to provide something for all of the people recommended by facility staff.

“We try to cut down as much as we can to make it as simple as possible during COVID,” she said. “We take the gifts to the facilities with the person’s name on them. Then the facilities take care of giving them to the individuals. We don’t enter the individual’s room.”

Peacock said Mental Health Association staff and volunteers used to wrap the presents before taking them back to the facilities, but because of COVID, last year they didn’t do that and won’t do that again this year.

“We miss doing that,” she said. “Hopefully next year we can start wrapping gifts again.”

The Mental Health Association sends out letters each year to previous donors, and has already received some donations that way this year.

Peacock said donors can be individuals, families, businesses, clubs, church groups and schools or in honor or in memory of someone.

Peacock said some of the recipients are elderly. But some are young people with disabilities who are in a facility.

She said the Mental Health Association started Operation Santa Claus because its members recognized that there were many people at Cherry Hospital who never had visitors and no one ever gave them anything special for Christmas.

“We would go and get the gifts and take them to the hospital for those individuals,” Peacock said. “Then as our Mental Health Association continued and began to get more involved in the total community, then we realized that there were others, especially when Cherry, as time went on, started releasing more of their individuals to the community facilities.

“So that made us more aware of the fact that there were those in the community who were also more or less forgotten and didn’t get any recognition. This was our way of trying to give them something special that they would like, whereas they might not get recognized at Christmas.”

Peacock said she’s heard that those who receive the gifts are very grateful for them.

“The facilities try to do something for their residents, but they can’t do as much as they would like to do,” she said. “So this really helps them.

“Some people the Mental Health Association provides gifts for might not have anyone to buy presents for them, so (they) would not have anything for Christmas if not for Operation Santa Claus.”

Donations are due by Dec. 15, Peacock said. They can be mailed to the Mental Health Association in Wayne County, Operation Santa Claus, P.O. Box 1476, Goldsboro, N.C., 27533.

For more information about the program call 919-734-6026.

“It’s (Operation Santa Claus) been one of our things that we’ve really promoted through the years,” Peacock said. “Especially those who are mentally disabled or mentally ill or elderly, they just need something extra. The holiday’s coming up, and we want to let them know that people do care and are not forgotten.”