ROCKINGHAM — Residents of Richmond County and the surrounding area got a pleasant surprise if they came out to the 17th annual Christmas on the Square on Saturday in downtown Rockingham.
The weather went from a beautiful 79 degrees and sunny on Friday to a blistering 48 degrees with scattered showers on Saturday morning.
There were balloon animals roaming around, crafts, face painting, games, non-profit booths, a visit from Santa and his favorite elf, delicious food, meet and greet with local law enforcement agencies, the Lions Club vision van, and even pets walking around in their holiday best, and an blow-up alien or two attempting to take over Harrington Square.
“It’s slower than past years due to the weather,” Skip Hocking said of pedestrian traffic at the event.
Skip and his wife, Susan, operated the games booth and managed the train at Christmas on the Square.
There were 110 vendors expected, but some cancelled due to the weather. The super slide, castle jump and climbing rock wall were canceled because of the dangers of being too slippery. The car show was also cancelled as well as majority of the entertainment, because of fear of the sound system getting wet.
“(We’re) very excited vendors chose to stick around despite morning rain,” Carolyn Ford, Christmas on the Square member said.
Ford went on to say that “vendors that stayed are used to unpredictable weather, and in 17 years we’ve never cancelled.”
If you were looking for food you were in the right place. The food vendors had barbecue, chicken, hot dogs and funnel cakes, just to name a few. If you were cold there was plenty of hot chocolate and coffee available to warm you up. First United Methodist Church of Rockingham was on site giving away apple cider and cookies.
“We give to the community, we don’t take from the community,” said Bob Gilmore of the church booth.
Richmond County Animal Advocates had a new addition to its booth this year, a kissing booth. Pay $1 and kiss the dog on duty. Congratulations goes out to Lucy who raised the most money, and was crowned Christmas Pooch 2013.
“(The kissing booth) was our saving grace because of the weather,” Allison Sweatt, director of the animal advocacy group, said about how the kissing booth helped turn things around with the bad weather.
There were plenty of craft vendors on hand as well. First-time vendor Sheila Webb, of Rockingham, was selling fishing line Christmas trees, which were selling good despite the weather.
Brian Thompson, of Rockingham, got to try on Rockingham Police Department’s “Beer Goggles,” which simulate a blood alcohol count of at least twice the legal limit. Under supervision, Thompson operated a golf cart along with Cpl. Marcus Ricks of the Rockingham Police Department at his side. Thompson hit three cones along the course.
Christmas on the Square was sponsored by the Rockingham Downtown Corporation, the city of Rockingham and the Richmond County Tourism Development Authority.