SEVEN SPRINGS -- Consider it a miracle, a demonstration of the will to survive.
But one year after floodwaters threatened to wash away the riverside village, Seven Springs is ready to welcome back Santa and revive its tradition of being the town in the county to hold a Christmas parade.
The parade will be at 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 18, and nearly 100 entries already have signed up.
Last year was the first time in recent memory that the parade, which traditionally ushers in the county's parade season, was held. It had been scheduled for Nov. 19, but was canceled because of safety concerns left by Hurricane Matthew-spawned floodwaters in October of that year.
However, the fourth annual trim-the-tree program was held using a Christmas tree rescued from the floodwaters.
"Last year we were devastated by the flood in October and were not able to have our Christmas parade," town commissioner Ronda Hughes said. "But this year we are able to have it, and I think we are going to have a wonderful parade."
Hughes said she decided in her heart even then that a parade would be held this year after the 2016 parade was canceled.
She brought the idea before the town board, and all of the commissioners agreed that Seven Springs needed something to show people that the town was still there and to encourage them not to lose faith.
"I really hope that people will come and show that they support us," Hughes said. "Just by showing up for the parade will be a wonderful way to show us that they support the town of Seven Springs.
"We are going to gauge by the turnout for the parade if we are going to have the (Old Timey Days) festival next year. So it is really important that you come and support us for the parade if you are interested in us having a festival."
Hughes has been working on a list of those already confirmed for the parade. She has been encouraged by people from other areas who have contacted her and want to be a part of the parade.
Hughes said she thinks it is very important that Seven Springs have the parade as life returns to downtown.
"Please come out and participate in the crowd," she said. "We will be throwing candy out to people. I hope to see everyone there and show us your support that you want Seven Springs to stay strong. We have a business that has opened back up -- Mae's Restaurant," she said.
"The post office has reopened. People were good about coming to the mobile unit. But is really nice to have a brick and mortar building for that."
The town is working on a temporary location for a new town hall on Main Street, and Hughes will be reopening her Neuse River Trading in January.
"It is going to be a very slow process," she said. "But I think it is very important to have the Christmas parade to let people know that we are still here, that we are still struggling, but that we are here and we still have as much spirit as we used to."
The town remains in somewhat of a disarray, Hughes said. She is asking the public to overlook that as the town works to do the best that it can to rebuild.
It is a very slow process, she said.
"But just keep the faith in us because we have a lot of faith, and we believe in our great town, and we believe that we are going to be back one way or the other," Hughes said. "We don't have any magic answers to anything, but we are working very hard to try.
"It might be a little bit different (from what Seven Springs was before), but we are trying very hard to help the town survive. It's dear to our hearts. It's very important to us, this little town is. In square footage it's not that much, but it's got a lot of heart and we really, really love this place. Most people who pass through here love it, too. So don't count us out."
The fifth annual tree trimming will be held at 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 25, at the Seven Springs Baptist Church fellowship hall.
"They have been kind enough to let us use their facilities for that," Hughes said. "Everyone is welcome. If you want to bring a covered dish to that you are more than welcome. It is kind of finger-food type things. We will have Santa there for the kids.
"It is a time for the community to come together. We do ornaments for everyone to put on the tree. Everyone helps to decorate the tree. It is decorated with ornaments to represent people's family, their businesses or someone who is passed away or in loving memory or honor of someone. Those are two things we are having this year to show people that we are still going. Just come and show us your support."
Anyone interested in being a part of the parade should contact Hughes at 919-222-9290.