SEVEN SPRINGS -- "I found it," Camden Jones, 7, shouted as he fished around in a large box of Christmas ornaments.
Scooping up the family memorial ornament, Camden quickly climbed up to his father's shoulders so that he could place his treasure high atop the Christmas tree.
Camden and his father, Shorty Jones, were among the 40 or so people at the fifth annual Seven Springs tree trimming held Saturday night at the Seven Springs Baptist Church fellowship hall.
The community event used to be held downtown, but was moved to the church in 2016, following the historic flooding that devastated the town in the wake of Hurricane Matthew.
There was plenty of food and drink and Santa Claus stopped by for a visit to take Christmas wish lists from the nearly dozen children there, as well as from some adults.
"I was born and raised down here," Shorty Jones said. "It is a community getting together. As much trauma as they have been through, it's to support the people who are still there in the neighborhood.
"I don't think we have missed one since they started."
Camden said he was having fun.
"My favorite is putting the ornaments on the tree," he said.
Jalyn Crook, who was quick to point out that she is 7 1/2, asked Santa for surprises.
She and her sister, Brylie, 4, helped place ornaments.
"I put a snowman, a cupcake, and I put one up there with my great-grandpa because he died," Jalyn said.
It was a lot of fun, that and playing with friend Lily Rae Herring, she said.
Town commissioner and event organizer Ronda Hughes read a list of 81 names of area residents who died over the past year.
"So don't take for granted that you will have another day with somebody because you may not," she said. "Have the best time that you can with your loved ones, your friends. Don't waste time on stupid stuff. Enjoy yourself. Enjoy life. Enjoy them. Enjoy their company. Don't waste it.
"But this is a happy occasion also. We are here to ring in the Christmas spirit because God gave His son, and He was born in Bethlehem, and that is why we celebrate Christmas."
The town's old Christmas tree that was rescued from the floodwaters was still used in 2016, but was too rusty to use again, Hughes said.
"Seven Springs Baptist Church let us use their tree," she said. "Whenever we do our new town hall we will get a new tree then."
However, most of the ornaments were saved.
"I had gone into town hall while they were evacuating and put them on top of the real tall filing cabinets, the 6-foot filing cabinets," Hughes said. "The filing cabinets tilted, but when they hit together the boxes just hit each other and did not fall into the water.
"There were a few that got messed up, but I was able to save most of the ornaments."
Floodwaters reached about 4 feet deep in town hall, she said.
Saturday's event came one week after the town's Christmas parade -- the first of the season held in Wayne County.
The 2016 parade was canceled in the aftermath of the flooding. The May Old Timey Days festival was canceled as well.
"I was very excited that we were able to have the parade this year," Hughes said. "I felt like the community really needed something. I have had very positive comments. It is the largest one that we have ever had -- the best turnout with participants and with the crowd. There were piles of candy thrown out. People were walking away with sacks and sacks of candy.
"People that are normally not in our parade were just coming from other towns wanting to be in it, wanting to be a part of it because of what we have been through I think a lot of it."
Hughes said she is appreciative to those in the parade and those who came to see it.
The town was excited by the turnout and will be discussing the possibility of holding Old Timey Days during the second Saturday in May based on how well the parade was received, she said.
The town has temporary offices in the same complex as Mae's Restaurant and two houses have been sold and are being renovated.
"It is just a little glimmer of hope," Hughes said. "Time is going to be what makes us. It is not going to happen overnight."
Hughes said she was pleased with the turnout of nearly 40 including about a dozen children even though it was down somewhat from last year and from the 150 or so who attend the 2015 event.
Hughes said she hopes to see the size grow once the town has a permanent location for a tree.
Regardless, people are still anxious to hang the ornaments, she said.
Lynne Jackson of Mount Olive was at the event with her grandson, Wyatt.
"I have never been before," she said. "It is like she said you don't know if tomorrow will come and you had better enjoy life and do things, special things. I made up my mind we were going to carve out some time to do this this weekend.
"We talk about God a lot and Jesus, Christmas and the reason for it. This is important for the community. I am just real proud of Ronda for continuing to strive so hard to do things in this little town after it was flooded out."