The Christmas spirit has seized Richmond County towns large and small.
Tree lightings are most common among local holiday festivities, but cities with larger downtowns also will welcome browsers and strollers visiting their businesses. Musical entertainment will abound, as will refreshments and that red-suited couple who appear every year at this time.
And the best thing of all? All events are free — unless you want to shop.
Sleigh rides: 2-5 this afternoon, 224 Earle Franklin Drive, Dobbins Heights Park. Children and adults may take free sleigh rides with horses Kate and Pearl.
Dobbins Heights has not yet scheduled its tree lighting.
Hometown Christmas, 5-8 p.m. Dec. 1, downtown Ellerbe. Businesses will be open to welcome visitors with refreshments and, in some cases, door prizes. The Rankin Museum of American Heritage will offer free admission to its exhibits, which will include a Christmas village. And Mr. and Mrs. Claus will join the celebrations, including the official tree lighting at 6 p.m.
Visitors are asked bring new toys for Toys for Tots or canned food for local food banks. Items will be collected at the Ellerbe Fire Department.
Tree lighting: 5:30 p.m. Monday, Main Street Park. Ceremonies will open with a prayer, followed by reading of the biblical account of Jesus’s birth. Musicians and singers from Summit Church and Second Baptist Church, Hamlet, will perform. Mayor Bill Bayless will light the tree, and everyone will be invited to sing “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”
Christmas parade: 3:30 p.m. Dec. 7, downtown Hamlet. The parade will follow a rough square around Main Street to Hamlet Avenue and back and include at least 15 floats, Shriners in funny little cars, dancers, the high school band, Miss North Carolina Caelynn Miller-Keyes and Santa.
Old-Fashioned Christmas, part 1: 5:30-8:30 p.m. Dec. 8, East Hamlet Avenue, Hamlet. Those wandering around downtown Hamlet may sample goodies from local merchants, take free horse-and-wagon rides and catch a wealth of entertainment: the Bold Moves dancers, Elvis impersonator George Hudson of Laurinburg, Deedle the Clown, and vocalists Beth McDonald and Kim Kowell. Santa will attend, of course, but organizers ask that attendees not arrive with pets, or on skateboards or bicycles. A special treat also is on the agenda: two giant snowmen who blow snow out their mittens.
Old-Fashioned Christmas, part 2: 5:30-8:30 p.m. Dec. 9, Main Street, Hamlet. The second day of festivities will feature jugglers, a Hans Christian Anderson-style Snow Queen on stilts, elves making giant bubbles and a Christmas bazaar, where businesses will be selling their wares. Under the awning in Main Street Park, children will be invited to make reindeer food for later use.
Tree lighting: 6 p.m. Dec. 4, Hoffman Town Hall. The evening will include musical entertainment and refreshments — free hot dogs with homemade chili. The 11th annual tree lighting will come at the end of festivities, at 7:30 p.m.
Tree lighting: 7 p.m. Tuesday, Cole Plaza, 514 Rockingham Road. The Rockingham Middle School chorus will sing carols before and after the tree lighting.
Christmas on the Square: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 2, Harrington Square, downtown. One hundred vendors will sell their wares, including Rockingham businesspeople and local crafters who have made everything from quilted and monogrammed goods, to Christmas ornaments. The Lions Club Vision Van will offer free eye screenings, and the Kids’ Zone will offer a superslide, train ride, castle bouncy house and a climbing wall. Santa will be available all day, handing out goodie bags, and Rockingham Police will offer child fingerprinting.
The event will include entertainment all day, including the L.J. Bell Elementary School and East Rockingham Middle School choruses, the Richmond Senior High School band, the Mount Sinai Baptist Church mime team, the Bold Moves dancers, and vocalists Donavan Steele and Ally Roberts.
Those who attend are asked to take along a new toy to give to Toys for Tots, which will distribute them to needy children.
“Scenes of Christ” drive-through, 6-8:30 p.m. Dec. 1 and 2, Mount Olive Baptist Church, 596 E. Washington St. Ext., Rockingham. Car riders will see 10 scenes from the life of Jesus, presented by church members. The event will feature in-car narration, 100 actors and live animals. Refreshments will be available at the end of the display. Church buses and groups are welcome. The church asks drivers to enter beside Washington Street School. For more information, call the church at 910-895-9670.
Reach Christine Carroll at 910-817-2673 or firstname.lastname@example.org.